Pentagon discovers Chinese materials in F-35 jets

US Air Force F-35 jets deploy to Lithuania

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The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a fleet of single seat, single engine, all weather combat aircraft to perform air superiority and strike missions. The stealth aircraft can also provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

Deliveries to military branches and customers across the globe are currently suspended after Lockheed Martin found a metal component in the engine of the jets from China.

The Defence Contract Management Agency alerted the F-35 Joint Program Office at The Pentagon on August 19.

The report stated that an alloy component used in magnets that are part of the F-35’s turbomachine pumps came from China.

According to the Joint Program Office, the discovery will not impact F35s already in service.

The turbomachine is produced by American defence company Honeywell, while the overall aircraft is constructed by Lockheed Martin.

In May 2021, the US State Department announced a $13million settlement with Honeywell following allegations it exported technical drawings of parts for the F-35s and other weapons platforms to China and other countries.

According to the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs’ charging document, the company based in North Carolina, faced 34 charges over drawings it shared with China, Taiwan, Canada and Ireland.

In a statement to POLITICO, F-35 Joint Program Office spokesperson Russel Goemaere confirmed that the component from China “does not transmit information”.

Mr Goemaere said: “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.”

He added: “Flight operations for the F-35 in-service fleet will continue as normal.

“Defence contractors voluntarily shared information with DCMA and the JPO once the issue was discovered, and they have found an alternative source for the alloy that will be used in future turbomachines.”

The turbomachine combines an auxiliary power unit and an air cycle machine into a single piece of equipment.

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The turbomachine provides electrical power for ground maintenance, main engine start, and emergency power while also running compressed air for the thermal management system during ground maintenance.

According to Adam Kress, Honeywell spokesperson said: “Honeywell remains committed to supplying high-quality products that meet or exceed all customer contract requirements.

“We are working closely with the DOD and Lockheed Martin to ensure that we continue to achieve those commitments on products Honeywell supplies for use on the F-35.”

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