The Pentagon has approved a national security waiver to restart F-35 fighter deliveries after Lockheed Martin discovered a metal component in the jet had come from China, according to three people with direct knowledge of the decision.
Congress was notified on Friday that the Pentagon had completed its investigation and that William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, has signed a national security waiver, meaning the Defense Department would not replace the part in aircraft that have already been delivered. The three people spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the decision before it is announced.
The Defense Contract Management Agency notified the F-35 Joint Program Office at the Pentagon on Aug. 19 that an alloy used in magnets contained in the F-35’s turbomachine pumps came from China. Lockheed Martin builds the overall aircraft, but the turbomachine is produced by Honeywell.
The discovery did not affect flight operations already in service, the Joint Program Office said.
The problem underscores issues with the U.S. supply chain and shows that large defense contractors are unaware of every detail, LaPlante told reporters Sept. 9.
“This is becoming almost a real-time issue of tracking and making sure that there’s integrity in your supply chain,” LaPlante said.
Connor O’Brien contributed to this report.