Seat ejector explosive rounds grounded almost all the US F-35s

WASHINGTON — The US Air Force has grounded almost all of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets in its inventory. The landing is temporary, the US Air Force said, until the problem is fixed. The problem is – the explosive rounds that propel the F-35 pilot’s seat ejector don’t function as intended.

Seat ejector explosive rounds grounded almost all the US F-35s
Photo credit: Martin Baker

The British company Martin-Baker is a manufacturer of the ejection seat for the F-35. In fact, this company equips almost every known Western design aircraft of the past and present. This fact is important because weeks ago the US Navy discovered a similar problem in some Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and E/A-18G Growlers.

The Mk16 is the ejection seat installed on all F-35 modifications. Previous versions of it have been integrated into the T-6 Texan II, Eurofighter Typhoon, NASA T-38N, and USAF T-38 aircraft. The company says the Mk16 is the only US government-certified seat that meets all the necessary requirements under the F program -35 Escape System for Neck Injury Criteria [NIC].

90 days

Within the next 90 days, the US Air Force will have to complete all assigned inspections to fix the problem. The order is effective July 29, and all Air Force F-35 catapults must be inspected. Depending on the final assessment, Air Combat Command will decide whether to resume F-35 operations.

US company Lockheed Martin is on an accelerated timeline to quickly sign a deal with Germany to acquire the F-35 Lightning II, wrote Gareth Jennings in Twitter
Photo credit: Twitter

However, the command says the combat duty of the Pacific Air Forces [PACAF], which is dependent on the F-35 in Alaska, will not be interrupted. Only the Air Force is known to have landed its F-35s. The US Navy and Marine Corps have so far refused to do the same with their F-35 inventory.

Europe

Logically, the F-35s in the skies above Europe are also grounded. This will somehow affect the mission of protecting the airspace of NATO partners and members. Especially at a time when there is a war between Ukraine and Russia and more than ever these planes are needed in the air.

F-35 vs. F-22 - a dogfight between the best stealth fighters
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The US has already sent some of its fifth-generation fighters to Europe to temporarily take over air missions and air policing in Europe. Such is the case with the F-22 Raptor in Poland.

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