TIME Military

Pentagon Grounds Entire F-35 Fleet

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A U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter, taxis in to its new home with the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. Stocktrek Images—Getty Images/Stocktrek Images

After runway fire at Florida air base

The Department of Defense grounded the United States’ entire fleet of F-35 fighter jets after a fire at Eglin Air Base in Florida raised questions about the safety of the aircraft, officials said Thursday.

The cause of the June 23 runway fire, which occurred as a pilot was preparing for takeoff, remains under investigation, the Pentagon said. The pilot was not hurt in the incident.

“Additional inspections of F-35 engines have been ordered, and return to flight will be determined based on inspection results and analysis of engineering data,” the Pentagon said in a statement late Thursday.

With a price tag of $400 billion, the single-seater F-35 fighter jet is the single most expensive weapon ever built. The program has been plagued by cost overruns and scheduling delays.

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