Pentagon suspends F-35 deliveries after discovering materials from China
“We have confirmed that the magnet does not transmit information or harm the integrity of the aircraft and that there is no performance, quality, safety or security risk associated with this issue and flight operations for the in-service F-35 fleet will continue as normal. F-35 Joint Program Office spokesman Russell Goemaere said in a statement to POLITICO.
“Defense contractors voluntarily shared information with DCMA and the JPO once the issue was discovered and they found an alternate source for the alloy that will be used in future turbomachinery,” Goemaere said.
The turbomachine integrates an auxiliary power unit and an air cycle machine in a single piece of equipment. It provides electrical power for ground maintenance, main engine starting and emergency power, and also provides compressed air for the thermal management system during ground maintenance.
“Honeywell remains committed to providing high-quality products that meet or exceed all contractual customer requirements,” company spokesman Adam Kress said in a statement. “We are working closely with the DOD and Lockheed Martin to ensure that we continue to meet these commitments on products supplied by Honeywell for use on the F-35.”
The F-35 is flown by the US Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as 10 other countries.
Now that jet deliveries have been halted, DCMA is investigating “causal factors” for what led to a Chinese alloy being incorporated into the F-35 program. If the government determines that Lockheed Martin violated the Buy American Act, the company would need a national security waiver for deliveries to resume.
“We are working with our partners and the DoD to ensure contractual compliance within the supply chain. The magnet has no visibility or access to 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 spokeswoman Laura Siebert said in a statement.
The F-35 joint program office, defense contract management agency and Lockheed Martin meet daily and conduct broader supply chain analysis, a person familiar with the matter said.
William LaPlante, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, will decide whether the program qualifies for the national security waiver.