WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the initial operating capability date of the F-35 Lightning II quickly approaching, the Air Force appointed Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian as the director of a larger Air Force F-35 Integration Office on Feb. 1.
In addition to gaining new leadership, the F-35 Integration Office will also grow from a staff of four to 12 and be collocated with Air Force acquisition fighter program element monitors and liaison officers from the major commands.
“This organizational change will help ensure a unified voice for operational integration of the F-35 across the Air Force as we collectively work towards bringing this remarkable new aircraft into our combat inventory.” Harrigian said. “We will actively work to synchronize major command interests and work with the Joint Program Office to ensure this program remains on track.”
Harrigian currently serves as the Air Force’s Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations, Plans and Requirements. He will replace Col. Carl Schaefer, who will move to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to command the 412th Test Wing in March.
The change in leadership moves the Air Force’s voting authority within joint project office governance from Air Combat Command to the F-35 Integration Office, allowing the Air Force to collectively address all issues required to operationalize the F-35, from training requirements to operational capabilities and sustainment plans.
The $1 trillion F-35 program is the largest joint program, and all senior leader communication within the Air Force will flow through the integration office.
“We’ve had great leaders across the Air Force working on bringing this premier, fifth-generation aircraft into operation,” said the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “Assigning a general officer on the Air Staff will ensure we have a single point of contact with the Joint Program Office empowered to speak on behalf of the Air Force for any aspect of the F-35 program.”