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A U.S. Marine Corps fighter squadron stationed in California discovered a series of problems with five recently delivered F-35C Joint Strike Fighters. These issues, documented in a January 2023 memo, raise concerns about the quality control of the jets and potential impacts on operational readiness.

The problems identified included, Metal shavings were found in the fuel supply of some of the aircraft. Faulty assembly of parts was detected during inspections. : A worrying case involved a plastic scraper, measuring 5.5 inches, left lodged in the wing fold of one jet, only discovered after a post-flight inspection.

These issues caused delays in getting the planes operational and frustrated squadron leadership. Lt. Col. Michael Fisher, commander of VMFA-311, known as the Tomcats, emphasized the impact on the squadron’s ability to serve as a ready fighting force. He called for greater accountability from Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-35, to address these discrepancies found during acceptance checks and initial flight tests.

Lt. Col. Fisher further stressed the importance of sharing information about problems identified in new aircraft across the entire F-35 program, including premature component failures. This information sharing could help prevent similar issues from affecting other F-35 units and services.