- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2013

The Pentagon announced Friday that all F-35 Joint Strike Fighter flight operations have been grounded after a routine engine inspection revealed a crack on an engine blade on the Air Force’s version of the stealthy fighter jet operating at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Parts of the engine are being sent to Pratt & Whitney’s Engine Facility in Middletown, Conn., to conduct more evaluation and analysis, according to a Pentagon statement issued Friday.

“As a precautionary measure, all F-35 flight operations have been suspended until the investigation is complete,” the statement said. “It is too early to know the fleet-wide impact of the recent finding.”

The F-35, the most expensive weapons program in history with an estimated cost of more than $330 billion, has been plagued by various setbacks during the testing phases.

“The F-35 Joint Program Office is working closely with Pratt & Whitney and Lockheed Martin at all F-35 locations to ensure the integrity of the engine, and to return the fleet safely to flight as soon as possible,” the statement said.