The Defense Contract Management Agency notified the Pentagon’s office handling F-35s that an alloy used in the plane’s turbomachine pumps comes from China. Lockheed Martin, which assembles the aircraft, may need a special exemption to bypass the Buy American Act if it wishes to restart production, according to Politico.
The alloy is present in magnets inside the turbomachine pumps. The alloy has not harmed the jet’s integrity, and F-35s already in operation will remain in operation, according to the F-35 Joint Program Office.
“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,” F-35 program spokesman Russell Goemaere told Politico in a statement.
“Defense 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,” he added.
Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Laura Siebert said: “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.”
While the plane is assembled by Lockheed Martin, the turbomachine pumps are produced by Honeywell.
“Honeywell remains committed to supplying high-quality products that meet or exceed all customer contract requirements,” Honeywell spokesman Adam Kress told Politico. “We are working closely with DOD and Lockheed Martin to ensure that we continue to achieve those commitments on products Honeywell supplies for use on the F-35.”
In late July, the U.S. Air Force temporarily grounded all in-service F-35s in its fleet over concerns about ejector seat initiator cartridges. Service technicians inspected hundreds of cartridges across 349 jets, as well as more cartridges kept in reserve. Inspectors located four that they thought may be defective. The fleet was back to normal operations within about two weeks.