Pentagon approves F-35 deliveries containing Chinese alloy – Politico
The US Department of Defense has agreed to resume the acquisition of F-35 fighter jets weeks after a component made from an alloy sourced in China was found in the warplane, Politico reported on Friday, citing sources.
According to the outlet’s sources, Congress was told on Friday that the Pentagon had concluded its investigation into the matter, with William LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, signing a national security waiver. This means that the department will not require the part containing the Chinese alloy in jets that have already been delivered to be replaced.
The procurement of the 5th generation fighter jet was suspended in early September after Lockheed Martin, the main contractor building the planes, reported to the DOD that the warplane had a magnet in the engine which used a cobalt and samarium alloy that came from China. However, at the time, the Pentagon insisted that the material posed no threat.
According to the letter sent by LaPlante to Congress on October 7, as quoted by Breaking Defense, the waiver “will enable the acceptance of 126 F-35 aircraft containing non-compliant specialty materials.”
He also reportedly said that the aircraft already delivered have “over 500,000 flight hours with no failures attributed to the high performance magnets containing the specialty metal.”
The Pentagon’s main concern was that the Chinese alloy could violate the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation, an extensive set of regulations for the department’s procurement system. However, while the acquisition process was suspended, Lockheed Martin continued to produce the warplanes.
The company plans to supply the US and its international partners with up to 153 of the fighters in 2022, and has delivered 88 so far this year. The F-35 Program includes eight international partners – the US, UK, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark, and Canada, with six other countries procuring and operating the jets.