October 13, 2018 / 6:10 AM / in a month

Australia says delivery of F-35 jets not disrupted by September crash

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - The Australian Defence Force on Saturday said its deliveries of F-35 fighter jets from the United States were still on track, despite the planes being grounded after one of the aircraft crashed in September.

All U.S. and international F-35 jets made by Lockheed Martin Corp were grounded this week so that fuel tubes could be examined in an investigation of the crash on Sept. 28 in South Carolina.

The pause in operations of the warplanes would not “affect the delivery of aircraft to Australia”, the ADF said in a statement, according to broadcaster ABC TV.

Australia has taken delivery of nine F-35 jet fighters and has committed to buy 72, with all aircraft expected to be fully operational by 2023. The nine planes remain grounded at a training base in Arizona.

“Australian F-35 aircraft currently based in the United States will return to flying operations once safety inspections are complete,” the ADF said.

Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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