HILL AIR FORCE BASE — After the Ogden Air Logistics Complex completed depot-level modifications on two F-35B STOVLs for the Marine Corps, the Air Force completed the aircraft’s first functional check flight on June 18.
Lt. Col. Kevin “Sonar” Hall with the 514th Flight Test Squadron — the first depot test pilot in the Air Force qualified in the F-35B — took off from Hill Air Force Base and zoomed to altitude before heading to the Utah Test and Training Range for a functional check.
As he returned to base, Hall converted the versatile aircraft for Short Take Off Vertical Landing operations and performed a “short” landing and a “rolling” takeoff.
Witnessing the successful flight was “eye-watering” said Lt. Gen. Lee Levy II, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center.
The Ogden Air Logistics Complex accepted two F-35Bs from the Marine Corps on Feb. 2 for depot-level modifications. The jets came to Hill from the Marine Corps with less than a week’s notice.
Work necessary for the aircraft’s initial operational capability was completed on the first jet in just over four months, with workers putting in 24,000 hours to complete the modifications.
“The work accomplished by the men and women of the 570th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron has been nothing short of amazing,” said Brig. Gen. Carl Buhler, Ogden Air Logistics Center commander.
Completing the modifications on time required the maintainers to overcome numerous challenges, said Buhler. They removed sections of the aircraft that many thought would never be removed, they strengthened wing ribs and worked in areas that required rare “micro-tolerances.”
“In the process, the maintainers developed techniques that will be used as benchmarks in a variety of depot operations in the future,” said Buhler. “The accomplishments of the members of the squadron — in concert with our Lockheed Martin teammates, with the support of the 75th Air Base Wing — have been remarkable.”
The second F-35B is scheduled to be completed in the coming days.
“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,” Levy said in a message to the workforce.