An F-35B that erupted into flames after a faulty bracket issue nearly two years ago has been struck by the Marine Corps, making it the first loss of an F-35 for the Corps.
The Corps made the determination that the costs to repair the costly high-tech fighter would not be worth the return on investment.
However, the Marines have not put out an official strike message for the F-35B because the Corps has not decided whether the aircraft will be used as a trainer for maintenance or a museum centerpiece.
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“With the specific F-35B involved in this discussion, the Marine Corps’ cost-benefit analysis determined the repair costs would not yield a sufficient ROI [return on investment] to justify the expenses,” Capt. Christopher Harrison, a Marine spokesman, told Marine Corps Times. “The decision was made to strike the F-35B; however, there has not yet been a strike message as the disposition decision has not yet been made.”
On Oct. 27, 2016, a fire broke out mid-air on F-35B forcing the pilot to land at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.
The faulty bracket, which was known as a potential hazard by officials overseeing the F-35 program, grazed electrical wiring near hydraulic lines. A fire erupted when an electrical short ignited a small hydraulic leak.
Despite the loss of the F-35 the Marine Corps has made some recent historic strides with its F-35 program.
Earlier this year, the F-35B made its first deployment aboard the amphibious assault ship Wasp with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, or MEU. And during that deployment, live munitions were loaded onto an F-35 for the first time while underway.
The 13th Marine Expeditionary is also slated to deploy with F-35s. That unit is still amid predeployment workups.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.