In late July, the US Army decided to temporarily ground the F-35 fleet due to an ejection seat problem. It turns out that something is wrong with some of the blast cartridges that fire the seat from the cockpit in an emergency. Then the Royal Dutch Air Force decided to urgently inspect all Dutch aircraft.
In one of the Dutch fighter planes – stationed in America to train Dutch fighter pilots – a burst cartridge was replaced as a precaution. Minister of State Christoph van der Maat (Defence) reports this to the Chamber of Deputies. It is part of what is called Ejection seat starter cartridges.
According to US ejection seat manufacturer Martin Baker, the chance of an ejection seat not working is very small. However, it is safe to say that all F-35s have been checked. The Netherlands has eight training aircraft in America: The blast pattern on one has been revamped just to be sure.
Of the twenty F-35s present in the Netherlands, the Air Force has now urgently screened six. Van der Maat says they are all doing well. The remaining 14 fighters will be examined within three months.
Worldwide, more than a thousand F-35 aircraft equipped with Martin Baker ejection seats have been inspected. The blast pattern was not defective on any aircraft, but the part was replaced on a small number of aircraft as a precaution. This also applies to Dutch trainer aircraft located at Luke Air Force Base in Phoenix, USA.