The US Defense Department has temporarily halted deliveries of the F-35 fifth-generation fighter jet after it was discovered that a component is manufactured using materials from China, according to a report published Wednesday.
The pause was put in place by the F-35 Joint Procurement Office, according to the Flight Global website. The office oversees acquisitions for the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
The decision was made after it came to light that a pump in the F-35’s turbomachine includes a powerful magnet with metal sourced from China, according to the report. The turbomachine is used to provide power to the jet while it is on the ground for maintenance and while it starts its main engine. It also provides compressed air to assist with temperature management.
While Lockheed Martin is the main contractor for the F-35, the turbomachine is manufactured by Honeywell.
The magnet that includes the China-sourced metal is produced and supplied by an unidentified subcontractor. The magnet is used in a lubrication pump that is part of the turbomachine.
There are nearly 1,400 companies based in 45 states and Puerto Rico that supply parts for the F-35, according to Lockheed Martin's website.
Honeywell said in an April 2021 statement that it supplies 100 parts for each F-35 built, including avionics, inertial navigation systems, engine fuel controls, cockpit and avionics cooling, wheels and brakes and a thermal management system.
The company told Flight Global that it has stopped working with the supplier who sourced metals from China and expects to begin deliveries from another US firm beginning in October.
Lockheed Martin separately said it conducted a review alongside Honeywell and the Joint Procurement Office that determined the magnet does not pose flight safety issues nor does it provide "any visibility or access to sensitive programme information," according to Flight Global.