All US F-35s grounded worldwide

F-35 fighter jet. Pic MoD

Inspections are expected to last a day or two, the department said.

The planes are created to be the next generation of fighter jets, capable of carrying bombs and missiles but also rigged up with cyber capabilities - seen as a critical function for 21st century battlefields.

The inspection was prompted by initial data from the investigation into the crash of a Marine Corps F-35B from a training squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in SC.

The Joint Program Office statement included "international partners" in the flight operation grounding, though the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence tweeted they have only "paused some F-35 flying as a precautionary measure while we consider the findings of an ongoing enquiry".

"If known good fuel tubes are already installed, then those aircraft will be returned to flight status", DellaVedova said. The engines of the aircraft will be checked for suspected faulty tubes and replacements made where necessary.

He added that suspect fuel tubes would be removed and replaced.

"The primary goal following any mishap is the prevention of future incidents", DellaVedova said.

On Thursday, the Israeli military also said it has grounded its fleet of F-35 warplanes. In May, Israel announced it had conducted the first combat missions ever using the F-35 but offered few details. The Air Force followed by declaring initial operational capability for the F-35A conventional variant in 2016, while the Navy plans to declare Initial Operational Capability for the F-35C carrier variant in February 2019.

The F-35 program is considered to be the most expensive weapons system in U.S. history.

Two U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II's assigned to the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fly a combat mission over Afghanistan, Sept. 27, 2018.

For the U.S. Defense Department, the timing could not be worse. Depending on the availability of parts, the fuel tube can be replaced quickly. The roughly $100 million F-35 is built by Lockheed Martin; Pratt & Whitney supplies the engine.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has projected a total lifetime cost of $1 trillion for the program.

"The US Services and worldwide partners have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations while the enterprise conducts a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft", according to a statement issued by the Department of Defense.

Other nations that have signed contracts to join the F-35 program include the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, according to the Pentagon.

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