Hagel Travels to Eglin Following F-35 Fire

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel will travel to Eglin AFB, Fla., Thursday in part to reassure international partners that the US remains committed to the F-35 program following an F-35A engine fire at Eglin in late June, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said July 8. The entire F-35 fleet remains grounded pending the outcome of an investigation. “I don’t want to get ahead of the investigation that you all know is ongoing with respect to the fire that occurred recently, but I can say that Secretary Hagel was confident that the investigation will help the F-35 return to flight, and he’s looking forward to hearing more firsthand from the folks on the ground there at Eglin,” Kirby said. It’s still not clear whether F-35s will travel to the Farnborough Air Show in London next week, added Kirby. “They’re certainly mindful that the air show is beginning, but I don’t think that we want to rush to a decision here,” said Kirby. He added, “I think, certainly, we’d be disappointed if we weren’t able to take it to Farnborough. I mean, this is something that we’re looking forward to, as well. That said, safety’s got to be priority No. 1.” Kyra Hawn, a system program office spokeswoman, reported that three Yuma, Ariz.-based Marine Corps F-35Bs are standing by at NAS Patuxent River, Md., awaiting clearance to attend and perform at the Farnborough air show in the UK. (Kirby transcript.)