Troubled Ejection Seat, US Air Force Rests F-35 Stealth Jet Fleet

Troubled Ejection Seat, US Air Force Rests F-35 Stealth Jet Fleet
The US Air Force Rests F-35 Stealth Jet Fleet

International Military - The United States Air Force has temporarily rested its fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets. The reason is that there are potentially damaged components in the ejection seat that could endanger the pilot in an emergency.

The same problem also caused other types of military aircraft used in training to be grounded temporarily. The problem involved explosives being used inside the ejection seat to help push the seat off the plane during an emergency. Alexi Worley, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command (ACC), said in a statement Friday.

Worley said the planes affected were those with ejection seats made by Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. “On July 19, we commenced the Time Compliance Technical Directive to inspect all cartridges in the ejection seat within 90 days,” Worley said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, Air Combat Command units will stand-down on July 29 to expedite inspection process," continued Worley, as quoted by Bloomberg, Saturday (30/7/2022).

Based on the data collected from the inspection, ACC will decide to continue operations. This is the latest development in a problem found throughout military service and in many types of aircraft that have ejection seats. The Air Force on Thursday decided to ground nearly 300 trainer aircraft because of the problem.

So far, 820 F-35 fighter jets built by Lockheed Martin Corp have been delivered worldwide out of a potential 3,000 for the US and partner countries. The US Air Force is the F-35's largest customer, with 348 of the planned 1,763 aircraft now in its inventory.

After years of talks, the Pentagon announced earlier this month that it had reached a preliminary agreement with Lockheed Martin Corp on a further three-year contract for 375 more of the advanced fighter jets.

The contract could be worth around $30 billion, according to a defense official familiar with the negotiations. The Government Accountability Office said earlier this year that the level of readiness of the F-35 for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps has increased since 2019 but is still far from the program's goals.

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