An alloy magnet used in the engines of the F-35 fighter jet was sourced in China and has triggered a significant stand-down.
Pause the Deliveries
The F-35 program office has paused deliveries to the U.S. military and international participants in order to determine any potential implications to the operations and security of the stealth fighter jet.
The F-35 Lighting II is brimming with classified sensors and technology, and a potential compromise by the Chinese military or intelligence services could have a devastating impact in the event of a conflict in the future in the Indo-Pacific.
According to information shared with Bloomberg, the F-35 program office has “temporarily paused the acceptance of new F-35 aircraft to ensure the F-35 program’s compliance” with the regulations imposed by the Pentagon with respect to “specialty metals.”
According to the same reports, once the F-35 program office discovered that there was an alternative source for the alloy used on the turbomachines of the stealth fighter jet, it halted deliveries as a precaution and until the matter has been investigated fully.
The U.S. defense official who spoke to Bloomberg stated that operational F-35 Lighting IIs won’t be affected by the discovery because the magnet in question “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.”
It was Honeywell International Inc, one of the many subcontractors in the F-35 program, that notified Lockheed Martin, the leading manufacturer of the stealth fighter jet, that it had discovered an alloy that had been sourced from China by a “fifth-tier” subcontractor was used in the magnet in question.
“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 Joint Program Office spokesman Russell Goemaere said Politico.
Joint Strike Fighter
The F-35 Lighting II is undoubtedly the most advanced fighter jet to ever take to the skies. Capable of addressing several different contingencies, the 5th generation aircraft has three versions (F-35A, F-35B, and F-35C), that differ slightly in their launch and recovery characteristics.
The F-35A is the standard, conventional iteration; the F-35B is the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) version that can take-off and land vertically; and the F-35C is the aircraft carrier iteration.
The F-35 Lighting II is a multi-role fighter jet that can conduct six mission sets effectively: Strategic Attack, Air Superiority, Close Air Support, Electronic Warfare, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR), Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), and Destruction Enemy Air Defense (DEAD).
Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.