The Pentagon says the military's new-generation F-35 fighter jet will not go to the Farnborough International Airshow in England because of ongoing inspections after an engine fire last month.
Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby says that while limited flights have been approved for the aircraft, there are a number of restrictions that would make it difficult for the fighter jets to fly across the Atlantic to the airshow. One restriction requires an engine inspection after every three hours of flight.
"This decision was reached after a consultation with senior leaders and airworthiness authorities, despite the decision by airworthiness authorities to clear the aircraft to return to flight -- to limited flight," Kirby told reporters Tuesday.
The entire fleet of nearly 100 planes was grounded after a fire at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
Kirby says inspections so far have not revealed a systemic problem and defense officials feel "increasingly comfortable" that the aircraft will be able to return to full flight.
He added that while the announcement is a setback and the Pentagon is "disappointed" not to participate in the airshow, "we remain committed to the program."
"We're actually glad for the news today to be able to get the aircraft back in the air, even if it is limited," he added. "We fully expect to work our way through this problem and restore the full operational capability in the near future. This by no means should signal any lack of commitment to the F-35 or to its future in the U.S. military or in those militaries of partner nations that want to -- that want to purchase it.
"It's the next-generation fighter aircraft, and we remain committed to that."