Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch: Air Force May Discard Plans to Qualify 2nd Ejection Seat for F-35A

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Arnold Bunch

Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, military deputy to the Air Force‘s assistant secretary for acquisition, has said the service branch is likely to scrap plans to qualify a second ejection seat for the Lockheed Martin-built F-35A aircraft if the Martin-Baker-made US16E seat meets all requirements, Defense News reported Monday.

Bunch told Defense News in an interview that Lockheed and Martin-Baker concluded the testing phase and submitted new information to the Air Force to decide whether to remove weight restrictions imposed on F-35A pilots in 2015.

Valerie Insinna writes pilots who weigh below 136 pounds were precluded to fly the fighter jet after the Air Force found that lightweight aviators are at risk of fatal neck injuries upon ejection.

“What I am waiting on to see if the issues that we needed to have addressed have been addressed, and if those have been addressed, I will retract my request for that information [about ACES 5],” Bunch said.

Bunch asked the F-35 joint program office to analyze the potential cost of qualifying the United Technologies Corp.-built ACES 5 ejection seat in 2016 following the weight restriction order, the report added.

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