The Pentagon grounded the global fleet of F-35 stealth fighters on Thursday, as a result of the first ever crash of the costliest plane in history. According to Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman for the F-35 program, the US and its international partners — including Britain and Israel — have temporarily suspended F-35 flight operations for a fleet-wide inspection of a fuel tube within the engine on all F-35 aircraft. “The action to perform the inspection is driven from initial data from the ongoing investigation of the F-35B that crashed in the vicinity of Beaufort, South Carolina,” DellaVedova said in a statement. Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 program is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some $400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years. But the program has faced numerous delays, cost overruns and setbacks, including a mysterious engine fire in 2014 that led commanders to temporarily ground the planes.
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