The US Pentagon has stopped accepting new F-35 jets from Lockheed Martin after it discovered a magnet in the fighter jet’s engine was made with material from China that was not authorised.
An investigation in mid-August found an alloy in the engine’s lubricant pump did not comply with US procurement laws that bar unauthorised Chinese content, Pentagon spokesperson Russell Goemaere said.
Goemaere confirmed the magnet does not transmit information or harm aircraft, and that there are no risks involved.
Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the jets, said “the issue is related to a magnet on the F-35 Turbomachine manufactured by Honeywell that includes cobalt and samarium alloy.”
Honeywell International, which makes the pump, said it “remains committed to supplying high-quality products that meet or exceed all customer contract requirements.”
An alternative source for the alloy will be used in future, the Joint Program Office said in its statement. There are other Chinese-origin magnets on the jet which have received waivers from past Pentagon officials.
Australian, British Minerals Preferred
Pentagon officials said in May that the US should fund Australian and British strategic mining of materials used to make electric vehicles and weapons.
Washington is working to reduce US reliance on China for lithium, rare earths and other minerals used to make a range of technologies.
The Pentagon request to alter the Cold War-era US Defense Production Act (DPA) to back strategic mining projects came as part of recommendations to Congress on how to write the upcoming US military funding bill. Congress is due to vote on proposed changes when it finalises the bill later this year.
Existing law bars DPA funds from being used to dig new mines, but they can be used for processing equipment, feasibility studies and upgrades to existing facilities. Currently, only facilities in the US and Canada are eligible for DPA funding.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard
Pentagon Backs US Funding For Strategic Mining in Australia, UK
UK Tries to Woo India With Advanced Defence Technology
Global Energy Companies Push for New Lithium Process
Iluka to Build $750m Rare Earths Refinery to Counter China