F-35 Deliveries Have Been Halted – Because A Chinese Alloy Has Been Discovered In A Key Component

In a concerning new detail, it has been reported that the delivery of the mighty F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter has been delayed as one of its components contains materials “made by China”, as per the Pentagon’s officials. The details that are coming are a little bit distressing because the magnet integrated into the F-35 Turbomachine contains “cobalt and samarium alloy,” which are manufactured in China, as stated by Lockheed Martin. This problem has caused eyebrow-raising concerns among the official authorities, and as a result, the deliveries of these aircrafts have been delayed for an unknown period.

Russell Goemaere, a spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), said, “The component, a magnet used in F-35 turbomachine pumps, does not transmit information or harm the integrity of the aircraft and there is no performance, quality, safety, or security risks associated with this issue.” However, the issue has been pointed out on Aug 31 and is enough to raise security concerns, but fortunately, the flight operations of the in-service F-35s and the production of this aircraft by Lockheed Martin have not been influenced.

Hence, the authorities have now started the investigations to determine the root cause of the problem so that in the future, no such incident of this kind happens as it causes more loss than expected. Goemaere further stated, “On Aug. 19, the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) notified the F-35 Joint Program Office that an alloy in magnets used in F-35 turbomachine pumps is potentially in non-compliance with Defense Federal Acquisition Regulations Supplement (DFARS), as the alloy was produced in the People’s Republic of China.”

“Defense contractors voluntarily shared information with DCMA. Based on the additional information, the F-35 JPO temporarily paused the acceptance of new F-35 aircraft to ensure the F-35 program’s compliance to DFARS pertaining to specialty metals”, he added. The presence of a magnet that has been alloyed by the People’s Republic of China is a cause of concern because the magnet is associated with the turbomachine which is the primary part of the Integrated Power Package (IPP). Hence, the functional parameters of the auxiliary power unit (APU) have also been managed by the turbomachine and also provide electrical power for maintenance purposes, ground operations, and much more.

To that end, Goemaere reported, “Further investigation is underway to understand the causal factors for the non-compliance and to establish corrective action. Contractors have found an alternative source for the alloy that will be used in future turbomachines.” On the other hand, the spokesperson of Lockheed Martin, Siebert, said in a statement:

“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.”

However, it should be noted that the deliveries of F-35s already scheduled with Lockheed Martin will be continued and it is anticipated that around 148 to 153 F-35s will be delivered this year. On the other hand, we had noted back then that F-35s were indulged in some ejection seat problems and as a result of this, around 100 of them were grounded. Now, we have encountered this recent problem with F-35s which made things a little bit messier on that part.

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