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F-35 jets grounded due to parachute problem

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F-35 jets grounded due to parachute problem

Post by Elfot on Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:15 pm

(Reuters) - The Pentagon on Monday said it was temporarily suspending high-speed ground and flight operations of more than 15 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jets after discovering improperly packed parachutes under the pilot's ejection seat.

The move affects six Air Force variants of the F-35 fighter jet based at Edwards Air Force Base in California, which means flight testing there will be halted until the parachute issues are resolved, according to Lockheed spokeswoman Laurie Quincy.

The suspension also affects nine F-35 fighters to be used for training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and three planes that are nearly completed at Lockheed's Fort Worth, Texas, factory, according to Lockheed and the Pentagon's F-35 program office.

It will not affect eight F-35 test aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, because they had received older ejection seats whose
parachutes were properly packed, the Pentagon and Lockheed said in a joint statement.

It estimated that it would take about 10 days until the first set of repacked parachutes were available.

The grounding, first reported by Reuters earlier Monday, comes as the $382 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program braces for a third restructuring in three years.

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