US military grounded majority of its F-35 fighter jet fleet over faulty ejector seat
U.S. military officials were aware of the faulty ejection seat mechanism in F-35 jets in April, but only recently took action. the air force times on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, the Air Force announced it would ground its fleet of F-35 jets to check for a faulty part that could prevent pilots from getting safely off the air.
It was later reported that the Marine Corps and Marine Corps had also issued a temporary grounding order until tests could be performed on the seats.
According to break defense, who first reported on the matter, the Navy has completed their inspections and the ground warrant has been revoked. The Marine Corps is said to be 90 percent done with their inspections.
A spokesman for chair manufacturer Martin-Baker, Steve Roberts, told the website: “During a routine maintenance inspection at Hill [Air Force Base, Utah,] in April ’22, an anomaly was discovered with one of the cartridge-driven devices in the F-35 seat. ‘
He continued, “This was quickly traced to a hiatus in the manufacturing process, which was addressed and changed.”
Roberts went on to emphasize that the problem with the F-35 is an “anomaly” and that the problem has not been reported in other aircraft.
The Active Duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A Combat Power Exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah
An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, takes off from the Air Dominance Center during Sentry Savannah on May 11, 2022.
The same day the grounding took place, Bloomberg reported on another problem facing F-35s. A shortage of working engines.
The Government Accountability Office said in a statement that the problem was caused by improper maintenance.
There are no reports of grounding in other countries using the F-35 jets. The aircraft is flown by air forces in NATO countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Italy.
The United States Department of Defense currently operates about 450 F-35 aircraft, costing about $78 million each for the latest model.
About 300 are the F-35A model operated by the Air Force while the other variants are operated by the Navy and Marines.
Between now and 2044, the US has pledged to buy nearly 2,500 additional aircraft from the manufacturer Lockheed-Martin.
An Air Force spokesman confirmed Friday’s temporary shutdown in a statement to DailyMail.com and said the planes are currently being inspected “to reduce safety concerns.”
“There is concern about a component used in the pilot ejection system of several US Air Force aircraft,” the spokesman said.
It concerns the explosive cartridges in the ejection seats of the F-35 that the pilot blows out of the plane in an emergency. The Air Force has about 300 F-35s, costing about $78 million each for the latest model.
British ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker has determined that certain production batches of the explosive cartridges in its seats are defective and need to be replaced, the Air Force said.
The ejector system component in question is also used on T-38 Talons and T-6 Texan IIs, and the Air Force has also taken some of those aircraft out of service for inspection.
The Air Force has grounded its entire fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters due to a faulty ejection seat component. Pictured: An F-35B Lightning II attached to Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 stationary in the cockpit of the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli
A Martin-Baker ejection seat for an F-35 Lightning II can be seen during upgrades in 2018. The British manufacturer has identified potential issues with the seat’s explosive cartridges.
Air Force F-35s use the Martin-Baker ejection seats. Earlier this month, the agency began an inspection process to determine if any of them were affected by the recall.
‘Out of an abundance of caution, [Air Combat Command] ACC units will conduct a stand-down on July 29 to expedite the inspection process,” an ACC spokesperson told DailyMail.com.
“Based on the data collected during those inspections, ACC will make a decision to resume operations,” the statement said.
An Air Force spokesman insisted, “This is a temporary withdrawal, not a fleet-wide grounding.”
The withdrawal order of the F-35 from Air Combat Command was first reported by Break defense.
The F-35 isn’t the only US military aircraft to be affected by the potential ejection seat issues.
Earlier this week, the Air Force grounded its training fleet of T-38 Talons and T-6 Texan IIs to complete a similar inspection process.
The United States Department of Defense currently operates about 450 F-35 aircraft, of which about 300 are in use by the Air Force. Pictured: An F-35 is seen at Luke Air Force Base in 2014
F-35 Lighting pilot refuels at Elgin Air Force Base in a file photo
About 300 Air Education and Training Command T-38 and T-6 aircraft were temporarily withdrawn from service to check for the potential defect.
“Each aircraft contains multiple explosive cartridges as part of a redundant system,” AETC said in a statement.
“Out of great caution, the 19th Air Force suspended operations of the T-38 and T-6 on July 27, while our maintenance and logistics teams continued to investigate the issue.”
Major General Craig Wills, 19th AF Commander, said in a statement: “Our primary concern is the safety of our pilots and it is imperative that they have confidence in our equipment.”
“Our actions today have been taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of our pilots and aircrew. We will not be rescheduling aircraft affected by this issue until we are confident that their escape systems are fully functional,” Wills added.
“Our instructor pilots accomplish an incredibly important and demanding mission every day, and we owe them safe and reliable aircraft,” the general said.
The Air Force T-38 Talon (above) is also affected by the potential ejection seat issue
The training fleet of T-6A Texan IIs, as seen above, is also being inspected
The F-35 Lightning II is the latest generation of American fighter jets and was first commissioned in 2015. It is considered the most advanced jet fighter in the world.
The F-35 is being manufactured in a US partnership with seven allies who also maintain the aircraft’s fleets: the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada.
Six foreign military sales customers also purchase and operate the F-35: Israel, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Belgium and Singapore.
It was not immediately clear whether Friday’s temporary grounding order also applied to F-35 aircraft of the Navy and the Marine Corps.
A spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office was unable to provide immediate comment when reached by DailyMail.com.
A spokesman for British ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker did not immediately respond to a request for comment.