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William LaPlante: Pentagon Eyes Waiver to Get F-35 Production Moving Again

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The Pentagon paused deliveries of the Lockheed Martin-built F-35 fighter jet in late August after discovering that China-made alloys were used in magnets within the aircraft’s turbomachine.

William LaPlante, undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment at the Department of Defense and a 2022 Wash100 Award winner, said he expects aircraft deliveries to resume again provided that such components do not pose any security or safety risks, Breaking Defense reported Friday.

He said a Defense Contracts Management Agency investigation is advancing “pretty quickly” and is looking at the potential impact of the Chinese alloy magnet issue on the aircraft’s security and airworthiness or safety.

“It’s likely, if, in fact, we find neither of those to be the case, we’ll be able to — to do a waiver and do the replacements and get the production line moving again. So I’m hoping this can be resolved pretty soon,” LaPlante said Friday at a press briefing.

The F-35 joint program office and Lockheed have said the magnet does not pose a flight safety risk or security risk that China can exploit to extract data about the stealth capabilities of the fighter aircraft.

William LaPlante will keynote the Potomac Officers Club’s Defense Technology Summit: FY2023 Budget and Priorities on Oct. 25. Visit our POC Events page to register for this summit and to view our full calendar.