US Air Force's F-35A fighter caught fire when the pilot started the engine during a training exercise at Mountain Home Air Force Base in state of Idaho Friday.
“The pilot had to egress the aircraft during engine start due to a fire from the aft section of the aircraft,” Defense News reported quoting Air Force spokesman Capt. Mark Graff in an email.
Immediately the fire was extinguished. “Four 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit Airmen, three Airmen from the 366th Maintenance Group and the 61st Fighter Squadron pilot were transported to the base medical center for standard evaluation as a precautionary measure,” Graff added. A week before the incident, Air Force had grounded 10 of their 15 F-35As due to a problem with coolant lines in the fuel tank.
However, it is still unclear if the fire originated from the F-35's F135 engine, manufactured by Pratt & Whitney. Likewise, in 2014, another F-35 burst into flames due to catastrophic engine failure during an air festival in England in 2014, which led to the grounding of the US fleet of test planes.
The F-35 has been beset with a number of problems with its various systems and sub-systems leading to an exponential increase in the number of its critics.