US Department of Defense temporarily suspended F-35 fighter delivery after discovering that the plane contained an F-35 component made of an alloy sourced from China. The Pentagon stated Wednesday.
It was determined that the problem caused by the suspension came down to the use of a magnet within the engine. The cobalt/samarium mixture that was used in the engine’s construction is from China. More specifically, the magnet is a part of a turbomachine that provides power to the jet’s engine-mounted starter/generator. According to Pentagon officials, there is no danger from the magnetic material.
“We are confident that the magnetic issue does not send information to the aircraft or cause damage. There is no risk in terms of performance, quality or safety.,” Pentagon spokesperson Russ Goemaere stated, adding that any already deployed F-35’s will continue operations as normal.
Current US laws and Pentagon policies prohibit certain metals or alloys being used from certain countries. This includes China, Iran and North Korea.
Goemaere said Lockheed Martin, which was responsible for producing the fifth generation fighter jet, had reported voluntary non-compliance. However, they have already located an alternative source. This is the reason why a review has been initiated.
The defense contractor said that it is working with the Pentagon and its partners “To ensure compliance with the contract within the supply chain,” adding that the F-35 remains safe for flight, and the company is doing its best “To resolve this issue quickly, we will resume deliveries.”
It plans to deliver 153 fighters to the US and international partners in 2022. The US has already received 88 of them this year. The F-35 Program includes eight international partners — the US, the UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada, with another six countries procuring and operating the jets.
Although more than 840 F-35’s have been delivered globally to date, production is still plagued by a number of defects. These deficiencies are sometimes detected after formal acceptance of the planes and present “A major problem that negatively impacts the fleet is,” according to the Pentagon’s Defense Contract Management Agency.
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