STOVL F-35 Grounded

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The Pentagon has grounded the most sophisticated version of the F-35 after a pilot had to abort a takeoff at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on Wednesday. An exhaust nozzle actuator line in the F-35B's exhaust system failed. The B model, which will be used by the Marine Corps, uses downward jet exhaust to assist takeoff and allow vertical landings. The Air Force (A model) and Navy (C model) aircraft are not affected. There are 25 airplanes grounded.

"Implementing a precautionary suspension of flight operations is a prudent response until F-35B engineering, technical and system safety teams fully understand the cause of the failure," said Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office. "Safety of pilots and ground crew is the top priority of the program." Reports say the line detached and that to save weight the actuator uses fuel rather than hydraulic fluid to move the machinery.