Pentagon halts deliveries of F-35 jets due to the presence of a Chinese alloy

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The Pentagon has said it is temporarily halting deliveries of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 aircraft after it found out that an alloy made in China was being used in a component of the fighter jet. A magnet with the alloy is being used in a part of the integrated power package, but Pentagon said that it posed no security issue. However, it violates federal defense acquisition rules.

“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,” Defense Department spokesperson Russ Goemaere was quoted as saying by CNN.

Since there is no security issue, the pause won’t affect operations of F-35s already delivered to the US military and other partners. A review to understand how the non-compliance took place is underway after the F-35 program office voluntarily reported the matter. An alternative source for the alloy has already been found and it will be used in future jets.

Notably, a US law and a separate Pentagon acquisition regulation prohibit the use of certain specialty metals or alloys produced by “covered countries” mentioned in the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation series. These countries are China, Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Defense Contract Management Agency reported the violation to the F-35 program office on August 19.

“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,” Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

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