TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Airmen of the Air Force Sustainment Center, on June 18, while visiting Hill AFB and the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, I was able to witness the first-ever takeoff of a USMC F-35B STOVL (i.e. Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) after undergoing depot-level modifications at an Air Force depot. The jet was taking off for a functional check flight.
This was a great moment for AFSC and our Air Force as we made airpower history.
It was eye-watering to watch one of our dedicated civilian maintainers, Jon Minter, launch the jet and Lt. Col. Kevin “Sonar” Hall — the first-ever Air Force depot test pilot to be qualified in the F-35B — skillfully fly it.
For background, the Ogden ALC accepted this F-35B and one other F-35B with only six days of notice; then spent 136 intense days working through several issues to accomplish a number of incredibly complex modifications.
The team, together with our Lockheed Martin partners, and supported by the 75th Air Base Wing, leveraged the tenets of the AFSC Way to plan and executed an array of structural and system upgrades. There is more work to do; although this jet will be a part of the first number of jets the USMC requires to achieve Initial Operational Capability, the team is on target to produce a second Marine Corps jet by the end of June 2015.
I couldn’t be prouder of you and the support we’re providing to our joint partners. The Marines were counting on us and you delivered.
My congratulations to the entire team. You are delivering combat power for America!