Washington (AFP) - The US military will not send F-35 fighter jets to take part in the Farnborough air show in Britain as planned, the Pentagon said Tuesday, citing safety precautions.
The move marked yet another setback for the troubled program, as US officials saw the show as a valuable platform to stage the plane's international debut in front of the industry and potential foreign customers.
"While we're disappointed that we're not going to be able to participate in the air show, we remain fully committed to the program itself and look forward to future opportunities to showcase its capabilities to allies and partners," spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news conference.
The F-35 fleet had been grounded after an engine fire on one plane last month. Military authorities cleared the plane for flight earlier Tuesday.
But aviation commanders imposed several restrictions on the plane's operation, including mandatory engine inspections after every three hours in the air, making a flight across the Atlantic problematic, Kirby said.
Given the timing of the show, which started on Monday, and the flight restrictions, "this was the most prudent and safe decision," he said.
The required engine inspections are "a pretty significant limitation in terms of being able to fly them across the Atlantic," he added.