The Pentagon halted shipments of Lockheed Martin Corp’s F-35 fighter jets for 30 days this fall after it discovered corrosion around fasteners and a fix was devised, the Pentagon and Lockheed said on November 1, according to Reuters.
The Air Force detected “corrosion exceeding technical limits” where the carbon fiber exterior panel is fastened to the aluminum airframe during routine maintenance at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
The Pentagon said in a statement that although the the fastener issue on the current F-35 fleet is not affecting flights, nor is it a safety concern, this issue “needs be corrected to prevent potential future corrosion, it does not pose a safety of flight risk to the F-35 fleet or affect current operations.” According to the Pentagon, a lack of protective coating at the fastening point that would have prevented corrosion was identified as the primary problem.
Lockheed is investigating the extent of the corrosion issue across the fleet of more than 250 jets deployed to the US military and its allies.
This is the latest of several production issues that have arisen in the 17-year history of the Pentagon’s expensive weapons program. In 2016, a fix for insulation problems in the fuel tanks and lines of the jets caused a slowdown in deliveries.