F-35, many other types, grounded ejection seat issues (updated)

The Air Force today grounded F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets indefinitely over concerns that faulty explosive rounds in the ejection seats could prevent pilots from safely exiting in the event emergency, the Air Force said.

Most of Air Combat Command’s (ACC) 113 F-35s were grounded, ACC spokesman Alexi Worley said. “Other Air Force F-35 units are following Air Combat Command’s lead,” said Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Annabel G. Monroe. The war zone.

“After initial inspections of a small number of F-35 aircraft and discussions with our logistics professionals and Air Combat Command, the [Air Education & Training Command AETC] The Commander has joined the ACC Commander in leading an operational pause beginning Friday, July 29 to allow our logistics team to further analyze the issue and expedite the inspection process,” said Captain Lauren M. Woods. “Based on the results of these inspections and in conjunction with ACC, the F-35’s primary command, the AETC will make a decision regarding continued operations.”

The Air Force has a total of 349 F-35s. It is not known how many were affected.

It’s a widespread problem that has grounded hundreds of other Air Force, Navy, and Navy aircraft. British and German aircraft, and possibly more.

Problems with the US aircraft relate to cartridge actuated devices (CAD) in Martin-Baker ejection seats. CADs “initiate a series of automatic functions when the crew pulls the ejection handle to safely exit the aircraft and deploy the crews parachute,” according to the Navy, which provides CADs and actuated devices. thruster (PAD) for all naval surface services. Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD).

Most of Air Combat Command’s F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighters are grounded due to ejection seat problems. (US Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Sam King)

“The CAD is inspected regularly and replaced as necessary during the aircraft’s maintenance period but may be affected by environmental and operational conditions,” the Navy said in a statement. July 26 press release about the problems.

The CAD issues with ACC’s F-35s were uncovered after the Air Force conducted what it calls a “temporal compliance technical directive” on July 19 to “inspect all cartridges on ejection seats in 90 days. Out of an abundance of caution, ACC units will suspend on July 29 to expedite the inspection process. Based on the data collected during these inspections, the ACC will make the decision to resume operations.

Worley could not immediately say whether this also affected F-35s deployed overseas or the exact number of grounded F-35s.

Hundreds of other Air Force, Navy and Marine aircraft have also been grounded due to concerns.

After initially grounding all T-38 Talon and T-6 Texan II operations, the 19th Air Force contacted Martin-Baker and reduced the number of aircraft affected.

“At this time, we suspect that approximately 203 T-38 and 76 T-6 aircraft may be affected by this issue,” the Air Force said in a statement. “This number represents approximately 40% of our T-38 fleet and 15% of our T-6 fleet and includes aircraft at each of our [Undergraduate Pilot Training] UPT bases as well as NAS Pensacola.

The Air Force grounded 76 T-6 Texan II trainers for ejection seat problems. (US Air Force photo)

These grounded planes will remain temporarily suspended “until maintenance can confirm that the evacuation systems are fully functional.” Flight operations were scheduled to resume on July 28.

The flight branch “works closely with Air Force Materiel Command to determine the inspection procedures required for these aircraft. As our teams investigate this matter further, if we find information that identifies further issues, we will take aggressive action to ensure flight safety, including temporarily stopping aircraft if necessary.

Major General Craig Wills, commander of the 19th Air Force, said the grounding was done for the safety of airmen.

“Our main concern is the safety of our Airmen and it is imperative that they have confidence in our equipment,” he said. “Our actions today have been taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the safety of our pilots and crew. We will not be returning the aircraft affected by this issue to the flight schedule until we are sure that their evacuation systems are fully functional.”

Instructor pilots “carry out an incredibly important and demanding mission every day, and we owe them safe and reliable aircraft.”

An undisclosed number of Navy and Marine Corps fixed-wing aircraft were also grounded due to ejection seat issues, according breaking defensewho first reported on these issues.

The Navy “recently discovered an issue affecting cartridge actuated devices (CAD) in certain fixed-wing aircraft,” it said in a July 26 news release.

The statement did not release specific numbers, or say whether Navy or Navy F-35s are affected. We have contacted several Navy offices for additional details and will provide them if and when we have them.

“Only CAD-equipped aircraft within a limited lot number range are affected,” the statement said. “The CAD will be replaced at the squadron assigned to the aircraft and the aircraft will be inspected before its next flight.”

After being made aware of a potential defect by the supplier, Martin-Baker, the NSWC IHD team “used validated x-ray procedures to scan the available inventory to verify that each item was properly manufactured prior to shipment. ‘send to fleet to replace existing CADs’.

NSWC IHD began shipping spares on July 24 to multiple fleet maintenance centers and plans to continue shipments throughout the week.

“Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CNAP), Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (CNAL), and USMC Supply and Maintenance Centers coordinate priority delivery of aircraft to squadrons fleet-wide aviation,” the Navy said.

As noted earlier, the British and German air forces are also experiencing ejection seat issues.

On July 23, the British Red Arrows Air Display Team had to cancel an air display on the last day of the Farnborough Airshow, the Daily Express reported. As the team’s flights resumed, Royal Air Force Typhoons were also grounded.

“The flight ban includes all jamming aircraft designed to intercept hostile targets over Britain, as well as jets deployed to Romania to help protect the skies over Eastern Europe. ‘Is part of a larger NATO project,’ the publication reported.

But in the event of a real threat, an RAF source told the publication that “if there are some bad guys on the horizon, we’d be ready to chase them down.”

Germany said it had solved its ejection seat problems.

“It was recently announced that there were issues with the [ejection seats] of #Eurofighter of #Luftwaffe“, the German army announced July 28 in a tweet.

An accompanying video explained how the German Luftwaffe solved the problem of explosive rounds in ejection seats.

We have contacted Martin-Baker, the RAF and the Luftwaffe for further details and will update this story with any additional information.

It is not currently known exactly how long or how many aircraft worldwide have been grounded by problems with the Martin-Baker ejection seat system. We will continue to monitor this story and provide any new details as they become available.

Contact the author: Howard@thewarzone.com

Updated: July 29 6:17 PM EST

Martin-Baker Aircraft Co. Ltd. business development manager Steve Roberts released a statement on the ejection seat issues.

“During a routine maintenance inspection at Hill Air Force Base on April 22, an anomaly was discovered with one of the Seat Cartridge Actuated Devices (CAD) in the seat of the F-35. was attributed to a deficiency in the manufacturing process which was corrected and modified. The F-35 program introduced a single directive to inspect this CAD on all seats in order to return the F-35 aircraft to flight.”

“This issue turned out to be unique to this particular CAD part number and unique to the F-35. Martin-Baker provided the first and several government agencies with supporting data to prove that all other aircraft can be excluded.-35, not a single anomaly has been discovered anywhere in the world as a result of the forensic investigation which continues apace.”