A total of 45 F-35 fighter-bomber jets sat temporarily idle after an issue with the plane’s ejection seats was found. Ejection seat manufacturer Martin-Baker officially notified the Air Force about the issue on July 15, according to Rose Riley, Deputy Chief of Media Operations for the Department of the Air Force.
The Air Force temporarily stood down all of the nation’s F-35 fleet in response to the discovery of “a faulty component inside its ejection seat that could prevent the pilot from being able to safely egress from the aircraft during an emergency,” according to industry news agency, Breaking Defense.
Air Force Magazine reports that “the fault lay in the ‘single-cartridge-actuated device, or CAD, on an F-35 seat was found to have an insufficient amount of explosive powder,’ a Martin-Baker spokesman said.”
In a statement, a representative for Air Education and Training Command told Mid Bay News, “Following initial inspections of a small number of F-35 aircraft and discussions with our logistics professionals and Air Combat Command, the AETC commander joined the ACC Commander in directing an operational pause beginning Friday, July 29 to allow our logistics team to further analyze the issue and expedite the inspection process. Based on the results of these inspections and with ACC, the lead command for F-35, AETC will make a decision regarding continued operations.”
According to Rose Riley, an inspection has or will take place on all F-35s before they are once again deemed airworthy. “As each aircraft inspection is complete and if deemed compliant, the aircraft is cleared to resume flying operations. The Majority of Eglin’s F-35s have been inspected and cleared to fly.”
While there are still several more F-35s stateside which need to be inspected – all of the F-35s overseas have been cleared to fly again. This includes aircraft which have been deployed.
The F-35 jet was not the only plane affected by the standdown of aircraft. The possibly faulty component is used in the T-6 and T-38 training aircrafts as well. “Air Education and Training Command T-6 and T-38 aircraft are undergoing an inspection and clearance process similar to the F-35s,” Riley said.