Alloy containing cobalt and rare earths violates federal regulations. However, there are no safety risks.
The U.S. Department of Defense has halted acceptance of new F-35 jets because the stealth fighter incorporates unapproved material from China. Specifically, the case involves a magnet in the engine that contains cobalt and samarium alloys, writes the Reuters news agency.
However, there are no risks in terms of performance, quality or safety, Pentagon spokesman Russell Goemaere told Politico. Flight operations of the F-35 fleet, which is already in service, will continue, he said. According to CNN, the department did not disclose how many aircraft contain the unauthorized alloy or which deliveries will be delayed.
Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the aircraft, discovered and reported the violation itself, Politico said. The magnet in question was produced by Honeywell. An investigation is now to be conducted into how the infringement could have occurred. An alternative source for the alloy has already been found and will be used in future fighter jets.
The F-35 is used by the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, as well as several other countries including Australia, Norway and Japan. The Bundeswehr is also expected to be equipped with the fighter jets. According to estimates by the Congressional Research Service (PDF), about 420 kilograms of rare earths are needed to build the aircraft.