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F-35’s First Crash Was Caused by Manufacturing Defect, GAO Says

The crash of a U.S. Marine Corps F-35 that temporarily grounded the entire fleet of next-generation jets in 2018 was caused by a manufacturing defect in a fuel tube made by a United Technologies subcontractor, according to congressional investigators.

The defect “caused an engine fuel tube to rupture during flight, resulting in a loss of power to the engine,” the Government Accounting Office said this week in a report on major weapons systems that referred to the September crash in South Carolina. The Pentagon told the watchdog that it identified 117 aircraft — about 40% of the worldwide F-35 fleet at the time — with the same type of fuel tubes that had to be replaced.

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