Air Force Grounds $23 Billion Worth F-35 Fighters To Check For A Faulty Part In Ejection Seats
The United States Air Force has decided to ground its fleet of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets to investigate a possible fault in ejection seats that could prevent pilots from safely ejecting.
According to the Air Force Spokesperson, the fighter aircraft are in a temporary stand-down order and are being investigated to mitigate safety concerns.
“There is a concern with a component used in the pilot ejection system of several aircraft operated by the US Air Force.”
said the spokesperson.
The issues reported are with the explosive cartridges inside F-35 ejection seats. These explosive cartridges blow the pilot away from the aircraft in an emergency. The Air Force said that the British manufacturer of the ejection seats Martin-Baker has identified several production lots of the explosive cartridges in its seats as defective and need replacements.
These ejection seat components with issues are also used in T-38 Talons and T-6 Texan II aircraft. The Air Force has grounded some of these aircraft for inspections too. Around 300 T-38 and T-6 aircraft used by Air Education and Training Command were pulled out of service to inspect this issue.
Major General Craig Wills, the Air Force commander said that,
“Our primary concern is the safety of our Airmen and it is imperative that they have confidence in our equipment. ‘Our actions today were taken out of an abundance of caution in order to ensure the safety of our pilots and aircrew. We will not return aircraft affected by this issue to the flying schedule until we’re confident their escape systems are fully functional”
The F-35 Lightning II is the United States Air Force’s latest generation fighter jet and it entered service in 2015. The F-35 fighter jet is considered the most advanced fighter jet in the world.