We publish the objective news, period. If you want the facts, then sign up below and join our movement for objective news:


Latest News

F-35 fighter jets grounded by military following Texas crash

By Sarah May on
 December 31, 2022

In response to an alarming incident in mid-December which forced a pilot to eject on a Texas runway, the U.S. military has announced its decision to ground a limited number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, as The Hill reports.

The move, made official via a Time Compliance Technical Directive (TCTD) issued on Tuesday, is said to impact an unspecified number of aircraft, which will remain grounded until at least January, according to Defense News.

Directive grounds F-35s

In a statement given to Defense News, the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) confirmed that the guidance was indeed directly linked to the ejection incident, but did not detail precisely how many planes were affected.

“The F-35 Joint Program Office has issued a Time Compliance Technical Directive to restrict some aircraft, which have been evaluated to be of higher risk, from flight operations while the investigation into the mishap on December 15 continues and until procedures can be developed for their return to flight,” the communication declared.

The military's statement added, “The affected aircraft have been identified, and the JPO will work with the [U.S. military] services and [international] partners to ensure compliance with the TCTD.”

Pilot ejection prompts move

As Fox News noted at the time, a Lockheed Martin F-35 crashed on a runway at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, forcing its pilot to eject upon losing control of the aircraft.

Dramatic video footage of the situation was captured, and it showed the aircraft in a slow descent, then hitting the ground before bouncing, sending the nose toward the ground, and entering the spin before the pilot was spotted ejecting out of the cockpit. WATCH:

The base where the incident took place is shared with aircraft manufacturer Lockheed Martin, and the plane in question – which was being flown by an Air Force pilot – had not yet been transferred from the company to the military, according to The Hill.

Assessment ongoing

According to Defense News, a source familiar with the situation explained that the investigation being overseen by the Naval Air Systems Command has made a preliminary finding that an issue with the plane's propulsion system promoted the incident, something which has led to the expanded grounding of additional aircraft.

That same source indicated that issues with a tube used to move high-pressure fuel into the aircraft's engine – made by Pratt & Whitney – was a key factor in the JPO's updated risk assessments for planes with fewer than 40 hours of flying time.

Defense News further noted that as a result of the events in Texas, the Israeli Air Force had decided to ground 11 of its own F-35s and would be checking those aircraft for similar problems to those described above.

Controversial history

Though Lockheed Martin has touted the F-35's “exceptional safety record,” particularly given its complex design, that is not to say that the aircraft has been free from controversy since its introduction.

As The Hill notes, for quite some time, legislators have leveled significant criticisms over the program's high, and seemingly escalating cost in addition to the ongoing series of issues with the aircraft's safety and performance.

Back in 2020, as The Hill reported at the time, lawmakers argued that Lockheed Martin should be forced to repay the Department of Defense (DOD) millions of dollars in lost labor when the company delivered faulty electronic equipment logs for the planes that could not be installed.

Ongoing problems with the F-35 program have not stopped there, with an April, 2022 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicating that “Operational testing of the F-35 continues to be delayed – primarily by holdups in developing an aircraft simulator – even as [the Defense Department] goes forward with the purchase of up to 152 aircraft a year.”

The GAO cautioned that for the DOD to continue with purchases of the plane on its previously determined schedule, it would end up buying a third of all expected aircraft without knowing that they were ready for full-rate production, a result that could end up requiring costly retrofitting of planes after problems are discovered through the testing process.

While it appears that the recent grounding of F-35's in response to the incident in Texas is rather narrow in scope, it remains to be seen how the military – together with Lockheed Martin – will continue to respond to the aircraft's growing number of critics in the ranks of the armed forces as well as in Congress.