Every one of the more than 825 F-35 fighter jets delivered so far contain a component made with a Chinese alloy that’s prohibited by both US law and Pentagon regulations, according to the program office that oversees the aircraft.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multipurpose American combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.
It is also supposed to provide electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities.
Although the results of an investigation are pending, Pentagon officials say it’s unlikely that the Chinese alloy built into a magnet connected to the F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter’s engine presents a security risk or safety issue to the operational aircraft.
Discovery of the alloy, used in a magnet in a component built by Honeywell International and connected to the F-35s engine, prompted the Defense Department to suspend deliveries of the fighters from prime contractor Lockheed Martin.
“They’re looking at two things, impact on security — if any — and impact on air worthiness or safety — if any. Right now, so far, there doesn’t appear to be any,” said Bill LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
“If we, in fact, find neither of those to be the case, we’ll be able to do a waiver and do the replacements and get the production line moving again. So I’m hoping this is going to be resolved pretty soon,” said LaPlante.
A Chinese-owned company has been manufacturing key circuit boards for top secret next generation F-35 fighter jets flown by the U.K. and U.S.,
Sky News reported in June 2019 that a Chinese-owned company was making circuit boards for the top-secret F-35 warplanes flown by Britain and the United States.
President Donald Trump delivered a garbled and misleading critique of the F-35’s supply chain today, casting the flexible and redundant international supply chain among allies as a program weakness he planned to fix.
“I’m very disappointed in China,” said Trump on Fox Business Network in 2020. “They should have never let this happen. So I make a great trade deal and now I say this doesn’t feel the same to me. The ink was barely dry and the plague came over. And it doesn’t feel the same to me.”
Later in the interview, Trump called the F-35 an example of “the stupidity that I’ve seen” in America’s management of international trade, pointing to what he characterized as bungling by his predecessors.
Trump suggested all parts for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter should be manufactured in the United States.
In a 2017 Thanksgiving speech to the US Coast Guard, Trump hailed the F-35 fighter jet, calling it an “invisible” plane that the “enemy cannot see.”
Exception PCB, based in Gloucestershire, southwest England, produced the parts after its Chinese parent, Shenzhen Fastprint, bought the company in 2013.