F-35s grounded at Hill Air Force Base after concerns over seat ejection malfunctions

Jul 29, 2022, 12:02 PM | Updated: 12:55 pm
F-35s have been grounded at Hill Air Force Base after concerns of seat ejection malfunctions....
Maj. Kristin “Beo” Wolfe flies during an F-35A Lightning II demonstration team show at Hill Air Force Base near Layton on Friday, June 3, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Hill Air Force Base’s fleet of F-35s is grounded over concerns about the seat ejection function.

And it’s not just HAFB, but the entire U.S. Air Force.

In a statement, Air Combat Command said all F-35s are grounded to inspect the cartridges on the ejection seats in the planes.

“ACC’s F-35s have Martin-Baker ejection seats, and on July 19, began a Time Compliance Technical Directive to inspect all of the cartridges on the ejection seat within 90 days. Out of an abundance of caution, ACC units will execute a stand-down on July 29 to expedite the inspection process. Based on data gathered from those inspections, ACC will make a determination to resume operations.”

The Navy made a similar decision a few days ago.  It did not disclose how many non-deployed planes it grounded but did so after three planes crashed, two of them deadly. The Navy said issues with the aircrafts were not directly related to any injuries or deaths.

As of last fall, the Air Force had about 300 F-35 stealth fighters and around 80 of those are at Hill Air Force Base, at least as of earlier this year. The F-35s are notorious in Utah for their nighttime exercises and drills, along with flying so fast it creates booms in valleys across the Wasatch Front. 

At issue is the ejection seat made by Martin Baker — some of them have a possible defect in the cartridge that helps deploy the chute. Not all of the jets have the defect but they need inspection to make sure. 

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F-35s grounded at Hill Air Force Base after concerns over seat ejection malfunctions