The Pentagon says it’s temporarily stopping deliveries of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 aircraft after learning from the manufacturer an alloy made in China was in a component of the stealth fighter jet, violating federal defense acquisition rules.
The Pentagon said a magnet containing the alloy used in part of the integrated power package posed no security issue.
“We have confirmed that the magnet does not transmit information or harm the integrity of the aircraft and there are no performance, quality, safety, or security risks associated with this issue and flight operations for the F-35 in-service fleet will continue as normal,” Defense Department spokesperson Russ Goemaere said.
The Pentagon said Lockheed Martin has already found an alternative source of the alloy for future deliveries.
The company voluntarily reported the non-compliance, and a review is underway to determine how it happened. The Pentagon did not disclose how many aircraft deliveries are now delayed or how many had the Chinese alloy. The company is scheduled to deliver up to 153 F-35s in 2022 and has delivered 88 so far.
The F-35 is one of the world’s most advanced fighter aircraft. The US operates hundreds of the jets, which come in three configurations, the conventional take-off and landing F-35As, flown by the Air Force; the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs, which can land vertically; and the F-35C, configured for aircraft carrier operations.
“We are working with our partners and DOD to ensure contractual compliance within the supply chain. The magnet has no visibility or access to any sensitive program information. The F-35 remains safe for flight and we are working with the DOD to resolve the issue as quickly as possible to resume deliveries,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement. The alloy is used in a system manufactured by Honeywell for Lockheed Martin.