A Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was severely damaged when it erupted in flames on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on the morning of 23 June 2014. That singular event would have been enough to garner U.S. attention; yet, it has gained considerable attention among the global military and aerospace (mil/aero) market.
Pentagon officials in Washington grounded the entire fleet of F-35 military jets on 3 July 2014, despite commitments to display the single-seat, single-engine, fifth-generation multirole fighters at two international aviation events. Attendees to the 2014 Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and Farnborough International Airshow (FIA) in England held out hope until the very last minute.
FIA2014 organizers (Farnborough International Ltd., FIL) even made the following statement on 13 July 2014, the day before the trade days opened on 14 July: “Unfortunately the F-35B Lightning II will not be displaying at the Farnborough International Airshow tomorrow, Monday 14 July. The aircraft is still awaiting US DoD clearance but we are hopeful that it will fly at the airshow by the end of the week. Everyone involved in the project is working towards a positive result for attendance and we fully support the stance to never compromise safety of either pilots or show participants and we thank them all for their continued hard work.”
Soon, however, it became clear that none of the four F-35 variant aircraft would be permitted to fly in time to make it to the shows.
The fire, located in the back end of the F-35A Air Force variant, was extinguished by emergency personnel. No injuries were reported. Officials are still investigating the incident.