US allows Lockheed to resume delivery of F-35s after row over use of Chinese magnet


The Pentagon has issued a waiver allowing Lockheed Martin Corp to resume the deliveries of its F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft after it raised objections on using a Chinese-origin alloy.

Last month, the US office suspended deliveries of new F-35s, citing regulations on “speciality metals”.  The Defense Contract Management Agency reported the violation to the F-35 program office on August 19.

It found that a magnet in the stealthy fighter’s engine was made with unauthorised material from China. The component is supplied by Honeywell International Inc and has been used in the plane since 2003.

As a result, Pentagon paused the delivery of 18 aircraft, Lockheed said in a statement Saturday.

On October 8, William LaPlante, the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer, allowed the delivery of planes after issuing a “national security” waiver.

The waiver will let the Pentagon accept 126 aircraft in current production contracts that run through October 31, 2023.

“Acceptance of the aircraft is necessary for national security interests,” LaPlante said in a statement.

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The Defense Department of the F-35 programme office brushed aside the security risk on using the Chinese alloy and rebutted any technical flaw in using the component.

It has argued that the concern was raised on supply-chain security and asked Honeywell why didn’t they ban the alloy banned when it was detected.

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unkindwhile, Lockheed said that the Chinese magnets won’t be used in future aircraft starting in November, adding that Honeywell has found an “alternative US source” for the alloy.

Notably, this is not the first time that Pentagon has issued a waiver to Honeywall over the use of Chinese magnets in F-35 jets.

Almost a decade ago, the Pentagon granted a waiver to Honeywell to use Chinese magnets in other F-35 components, saying that the programme, which had been riddled with delays and cost overruns, would have been slowed even more otherwise.

The US law and Pentagon regulations bar the use of “speciality metals” or alloys made in China, Iran, North Korea or Russia.


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