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RAAF pauses F-35 flying for safety inspections

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 12, 2018

Royal Australian Air Force F-35A A35-009, parked on the ‘Australian flight line’ at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Defence)
RAAF F-35 A35-009 parked on the ‘Australian flight line’ at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. (Defence)

Defence has confirmed the RAAF has “paused” flying its F-35A Joint Strike Fighters while engine inspections are undertaken.

The confirmation on Friday afternoon comes after the US Department of Defense announced on Thursday US time it had suspended F-35 flying to inspect fuel tubes within the aircraft’s Pratt & Whitney F135 engines, following initial investigations into a US Marine Corps F-35B crash in South Carolina, near Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, in late September. The pilot ejected safely.

“Following a recent incident in the United States (United States Marine Corps South Carolina 29 Sep 18) the F-35 fleet has been instructed to conduct safety inspections across all delivered engines,” a Defence spokesperson said via emailed statement on Friday.

“Australian F-35 aircraft currently based in the US will return to flying operations once safety inspections are complete. Some international partners within the F-35 program are already commencing flying following conclusion of their inspections.”

In early September, the RAAF took delivery of its ninth F-35A. The aircraft, A35-009, was the first to be taken on strength by its first operational flying unit to fly the jet, No 3 Squadron.


The Defence spokesperson said the new safety inspections “will not affect the delivery of aircraft to Australia”.

3SQN pilots and maintenance personnel are currently training on the F-35 with the US Air Force’s 56th Fighter Wing at Luke. The squadron is due to bring the first two jets to Australia in mid-December for a ‘Verification & Validation Testing’ program and to allow in-country F-35 maintenance training to begin.

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