27 Jun 14. The U.S. Marine Corps on Friday resumed flights of its Lockheed Martin Corp F-35B jets that were suspended following a fire on an Air Force F-35A and prepared for the jet’s global debut in Britain next month after the discovery of engine pieces from the F-35A pointed to an issue with that specific model.
“We are continuing with our plans to deploy to the UK next month,” said Marine Corps spokesman Captain Richard Ulsh. He said the Marine Corps resumed F-35B flights on Friday.
Four F-35B jets arrived early evening on Friday at an air base in southern Maryland, where they will be readied for their first trans-Atlantic flights, according to sources familiar with the program. The jets came from a Marine Corps base in Yuma, Arizona. The deployment of the jets to Britain had been called into question after a fire broke out in the rear of an Air Force A-model F-35 on Monday as the pilot was preparing to take off for a training flight. The Air Force on Thursday suspended flights of all F-35 A-model jets while it investigates the fire. Flights of some Navy jets were also suspended, but others continued to fly, according to Navy officials. Sources familiar with the situation said engine pieces and fragments were found on the runway at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida after the fire, the first confirmation that the fire involved the plane’s engine, which was built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. The Air Force has not released any details about its investigation and a spokeswoman had no immediate comment on the report that engine components were found. Pratt builds the engines for all three models of the F-35: the Air Force’s conventional takeoff A-model, the Marine Corps’ B-model, which can land vertically, and the Navy’s C-model, which is for use on aircraft carriers. The sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly, said the discovery of the engine parts did not point to a specific cause of the fire and said the investigation was continuing. But they said it cleared the way for the Marine Corps and Navy to resume flights since their B- and C-model jets have a different engine.
Pratt & Whitney spokesman Matthew Bates said his company was ready to assist in the Air Force investigation, and referred all further questions to the Air Force. (Source: Reuters)
26 Jun 14. Pentagon assigns 2-star general to oversee assessment in Iraq, a sign of task’s sensitivity. The U.S. military named a two-star general to head up the teams that have been sent to Iraq to determine what U.S. military assistance might help halt the advance of radical Islamist insurgents who’ve seized control of much of the country in the past two weeks. Army Maj. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, who’s the deputy commanding general of operations for the 3rd Army, which is based in Kuwait, will direct the work of the 300 or so advisers President Barack Obama has said will be assigned to Iraq to help the government in Baghdad repulse the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. ISIS fighters in the past two weeks have seized Mosul, the country’s second largest city, Tikrit, the hometown of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, and is threatening the Iraqi government’s hold on the country’s largest refinery at Baiji. About 180 of those advisers are now in Iraq, including 50 who arrived on Thursday, the Pentagon said. The assignment of a two-star general to lead just 300 troops underscores the unusual nature of the current crisis in Iraq, where one of the first tasks will be to fill an intelligence gap that U.S. officials said has existed about conditions in Iraq since the United States withdrew the last of its troops in 2011. Pittard, who will lead the Iraq Joint Forces Land Component Command, also likely will work as a quasi-diplomat to Iraqi commanders, experts said. Pittard, however, will answer to U.S. Central Command, the military unit that has responsibility for American military activities in the Middle East. “Having a two-star there will indi