An F-35 was forced to land in Texas after a caution light came on in the cockpit on Monday. The F-35 fighter jet was one of two headed to a Nevada air base.
Instead, it was forced to land in Lubbock, Texas while the caution warning light was checked out. The next-generation stealth fighter jet has suffered from several setbacks including being over budget.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has also been grounded twice so far this year over engine problems. It is not yet clear what caused the caution light to turn on on Monday, according to Lockheed spokesman Michael Rein.
The plane was on its way from the Lockheed plant in Fort Worth, Texas to Nellis Air Force Base when the incident happened. The second plane was able to continue on to the base, located near Las Vegas. It joined two other aircraft that arrived last week.
The planes will be used for operational testing and evaluation. The F-35 program is so gar the Pentagon’s most expensive weapon’s program. The F-35 being forced to land is just the latest issue for the plane. Lockheed is developing the next-generation fighter for the US Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
They will also be sold to eight international partners including Britain, Canada, Australia, Italy, Turkey, Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands. The plane is a single-seat, single-engine design. Local police arrived at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport in Texas to secure the state-of-the-art warplane since it was not able to land at a military airstrip.
Once the warning light that forced the fighter jet to land is investigated, mechanics will decide whether it needs to return to the Lockheed plant or if it will be able to continue its journey to Nellis. Gary Loftus, the operations manager at the Lubbock airport, assured that the F-35 fighter is parked on an airport ramp. It is protected inside a fence so that no one can reach it.
It is believed to be the first time a F-35 landed at a commercial airport. The news about the F-35’s forced landing came the same day as the congressional Government Accountability Office released its annual report on the weapons program. The office stated that the program is showing progress in development, production, and technical issues. Despite this, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program still faces challenges.