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Air Force grounds some F-35s over ejector seat concerns

An F-35 flies at the first Lockheed Martin Space and Air Show in Sanford, Fla., in October 2020. The Air Force announced Friday that a component of the F-35's ejector seats has a defect. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/5f7ade39351be1d19310bd9467ae7941/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
An F-35 flies at the first Lockheed Martin Space and Air Show in Sanford, Fla., in October 2020. The Air Force announced Friday that a component of the F-35's ejector seats has a defect. File Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

July 29 (UPI) -- The Air Force announced Friday that it's grounding its F-35 Joint Strike Fighter fleet over problems with a component that helps propel the pilot's ejection seat.

Faulty Cartridge Actuated Devices could prevent the seats from properly clearing the fighter jet during an ejection.

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Air Combat Command spokeswoman Alexi Worley confirmed the temporary grounding in a statement to Breaking Defense.

"ACC's F-35s do have Martin-Baker ejection seats, and on July 19, began a Time Compliance Technical Directive to inspect all of the cartridges on the ejection seat within 90 days," she said.

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"Out of an abundance of caution, ACC units will execute a stand-down on July 29 to expedite the inspection process. Based on data gathered from those inspections, ACC will make a determination to resume operations," Worley said.

F-35s operated by Air Education and Training Command will also be grounded for inspection.

Air Force spokeswoman Aryn Lockhart on Thursday confirmed to the Air Force Times that the Air Force also halted flying 203 T-38 Talons and 76 T-6 Texan IIs, for the same issue.

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"Our primary concern is the safety of our airmen and it is imperative that they have confidence in our equipment," 19th Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Craig D. Wills told the Times. "Our actions ... were taken out of an abundance of caution in order to ensure the safety of our pilots and aircrew."

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Defense One reported that no other Air Force commands have ordered a stand-down of aircraft. The Navy and Marine Corps also haven't grounded their F-35s.

The announcement came three days after the U.S. Navy announced it was notified by of the potential defect by Martin-Baker in the CADs in some fixed-wing aircraft, including the F/A-18B/C/D Hornet, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, E/A-18G Growler, T-45 Goshawk and F-5 Tiger II training aircraft.

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