Workforce praised for role in F-35 IOC

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TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — Airmen of the Air Force Sustainment Center, I had the privilege and honor of representing all of you last Friday at Hill AFB, Utah, as the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force presided over the F-35 Initial Operational Capability (IOC) ceremony. Below is a short announcement from Air Force Magazine that summarizes it very well.

My message to you is none of this would have happened were it not for the men and women … the AIRMEN of AFSC. Your fingerprints were all over this momentous day as you professionally worked supply chain issues, F-35 fleet modifications, software tweaks, engine maintenance, air base issues, and myriad other details that made ready the F-35 for what was truly a fantastic day not only for our Air Force but for our nation.

I am proud of you and proud of what you helped deliver in putting our nation’s adversaries on notice by delivering this essential new capability for the United States.  I am honored to be your commander.

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Air Force leadership celebrated its newest operational aircraft at its main operational base, saying the F-35A will soon be the backbone of the fleet. 

“The F-35 will soon become the quarterback of the joint force,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said during a ceremony at Hill AFB, Utah, celebrating the Aug. 2 declaration that the F-35 has reached initial operating capability.

Hill is home to the 388th Fighter Wing and associated 419th Reserve Wing that are the first to fly the aircraft operationally.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said there is still work to do as the F-35 moves toward full operating capability, including keeping costs down so the Air Force can continue to move toward the total fleet goal of 1,763 aircraft.

“But most important of all, we need to continue the focus on our people,” James said during the ceremony. “Those that fly, those that maintain, those that support this unit and others.”

The new aircraft will give the Air Force an “unmatched advantage” in wars to come, officials said.

“I have a message to our adversaries,” Goldfein said, “It sucks to be you.”