An F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, marked AA-1, lands Oct. 23 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. (http://www.af.mil)
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Over 200 of the most expensive aircraft in the world are used by the US Military, but fleets of war planes owned by the Air Force are sitting on the sidelines, despite costing billions of dollars.
All 20 of the F-35 aircraft in a fleet manufactured by Lockheed Martin were grounded today after the factory’s Joint Program Office (JPO) identified a failure in the plane’s electrical system while conducting tests on the ground.
An official for the JPO tells Flight International that they are investigating the problem, and once the facts are “understood,” Lockheed Martin will then decide what to do with the fleet of planes.
This F-35 fleet has been grounded three times now since October. The one plane that triggered the problem, the AF-4, has been grounded itself twice in 2011 alone.
The fleet of F-35s join 187 F-22’s purchased by the Air Force through Lockheed Martin have been out of operation since they were first acquired in 2005. Those planes, worth a total of $77.4 billion, have remained out of use since they were first added to the Military’s arsenal. In May, however, malfunctions in the oxygen system installed in the crafts caused the Air Force to indefinitely ground the fleet, this time with actual reason.
Aside from training and patrol operations, the nearly $80 billion worth of F-22s have never been used by the US Military, despite the country’s engagement in several wars.
In 2009, then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the F-22 was something the Military needed in order to defeat highly advanced enemy fighter fleets, but added, “to be blunt, does not make much sense anyplace else in the spectrum of conflict.”