Israeli Air Force to inspect F-35 jets after US grounds fleet over safety concerns

U.S. and Israeli Air Force F-35 jets taking part in an exercise. Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit.

Both militaries evaluating potentially faulty cartridges that blast out ejector seats in the event of an emergency.

 Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar on Saturday ordered the evaluation of the military’s 33 F-35 fighter jets, after its maker, Lockheed Martin, said the aircrafts could have faulty ejection seat mechanisms.

On Friday, the U.S. Air Force said it was temporarily grounding its F-35 fleet over a problem with the system that blasts out ejector seats in the event of an emergency.

“Following a situation assessment, the IAF commander ordered a check for the whole of the order of battle for the Adir jet [the IAF’s name for the F-35] before the next flight. This is a process that will be carried out by technical crews, and it is expected to be complete in the coming days,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

“The IAF commander stressed that the checks must occur in a meticulous and fundamental manner in order to return the fleet to full readiness, while maintaining a high flight standard,” the statement added.

Maj. Gen. Bar will approve on a case-by-case basis all operational F-35 flights that are necessary before the evaluations are concluded, according to the IDF.

An IAF source said that “the United States Air Force and we are acting correctly. We will not take unnecessary risks. We’ll begin checks and manage the incident.”

Israel has purchased a total of 75 F-35 jets, with the next 17 expected to be delivered by the end of 2024.

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