At the end of July, the US Air Force grounded its fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets over concerns of a faulty component in the ejection seat that could endanger pilots during emergencies. Now Bloomberg reports most of the F-35s have returned to normal operational status after weeks of inspections.
Air Combat Command spokesperson Alexis Worley said in a statement Monday that USAF's 349-jet inventory returned to service after two weeks of groundings to inspect 706 explosive cartridges inside ejection seats that propel the seat -- and the pilot -- from the fighter jet during an emergency.
Worley said four cartridges were found defective, which could've led to a malfunction during an ejection. She said those cartridges were replaced and will "undergo further inspection."
The issue began in April at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah when ground crews found an "anomaly" with one of the Seat Cartridge Actuated Devices in an F-35. The issue was immediately traced back to a problem in the manufacturing process by defense company Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd.
USAF has incrementally returned the stealth fighters to service in the US, Europe, and the Pacific. Other jets were affected by faulty ejection seats, including training ones that were grounded. We also noted United Kingdom's Eurofighter Typhoons had similar problems with 'non-essential' flights grounded last month.
So far, Lockheed Martin has built 820 F-35s and strategically placed them in partner nations around Russia and China. Lockheed plans to produce 3,000 F-35s in the coming years, though the stealth jets have been fraught with problems and over budget.
Mon, 08/15/2022 - 21:25