The US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into Honeywell’s export and import procedures after it was found that the firm used Chinese parts on the F-35 aircraft.
Besides using $2 magnets on the aircrafts radar system, landing gears and other hardware, Honeywell also used simple thermal sensors that were made in China in 2009 and 2010.
The Pentagon twice waived laws banning Chinese-built components in U.S. weapons in 2012 and 2013 for parts supplied by Honeywell for the $392 billion Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 program, according to a Reuters report.
The sensors are part of the power thermal management system that Honeywell builds to cool the F-35, start its engines and pressurize the cabin, said Joe DellaVedova, spokesman for the Pentagon's F-35 program office was quoted as saying.
The equipment is “a common electrical sensor found on a circuit card that is widely available in commercial applications around the world,” a Honeywell Spokesperson said.
According to Pentagon spokeswoman Maureen Schumann, the Pentagon had previously granted national security waivers to allow foreign-built parts on other aircraft. However she refused to divulge any further information.
The thermal sensors were simple parts that did not include any software and were not programmable. There were no risks associated with the use of the sensors, according to DellaVedova, the spokesman for the F-35 program office.
He added that all the Chinese-built sensors would eventually be replaced on the F-35s, but the process had not yet been completed. He had no immediate information on how many Chinese-built sensors were installed on the planes.
“Honeywell did produce this component in China for a short period of time, and proactively and voluntarily decided to move production to a U.S. facility in 2012 after consulting with the Department of Defense and our partners. We believe we have followed all applicable U.S. laws and regulations relating to the manufacturing of defense-related components in China,” Scott Sayres, a Honeywell spokesman was quoted as saying.