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RAF FAIRFORD, England, July 10 (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will not fly at Britain's Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), the event's organisers said on Thursday, dealing a blow to the U.S. group's plans.
The entire F-35 fleet was grounded earlier this month after one of the jets caught fire, but Lockheed officials had still hoped the plane would be able to appear at the Air Tattoo, which runs through July 12 and is billed by organisers as the world's largest military airshow.
"Despite everyone's best endeavours, it has now been decided that the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II will not fly at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2014 as all of the aircraft currently remain grounded," RIAT said in a statement.
British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said on Wednesday that, while the F-35 might miss the Air Tattoo, he was optimistic it would fly at the Farnborough International Airshow which starts on July 14.
The F-35 is the world's biggest arms programme and failure to appear at both the Air Tattoo and Farnborough could undermine export interest in the jet just as several countries including Canada and Denmark, both of which helped fund development of the plane, are weighing orders. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Mark Potter; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)