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    Crack in engine prompts US to ground F-35 fleet

    The F-35 is slated to replace other jets.
    The F-35 is slated to replace other jets.

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon on Friday grounded its fleet of F-35 jets after discovering a cracked engine blade in one plane.

    The problem was discovered during what the Pentagon called a routine inspection at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., of an F-35A, the Air Force version of the sleek new plane. The Navy and the Marine Corps are buying other versions of the F-35. All versions — a total of 51 planes — were grounded. None of the planes have been fielded for combat yet.

    ‘‘The F-35 is a huge problem because of its growing, already unaffordable cost and its gigantically disappointing performance,’’ said Winslow Wheeler, of Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.