f-35 | North Carolina

Transformation, Modernization Underway for F-35

May 18, 2020


Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point
COMMUNICATION STRATEGY AND OPERATIONS _____________________________________________________________________________________
ADVISORY No.: 20200514-001

MCAS Cherry Point: Transformation, modernization underway for F-35

MARINE CORPS STATION CHERRY POINT, NC (May 14, 2020)–Major military construction (MILCON) is underway to transform and modernize Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point into a key base for the future of Marine Aviation and its next-generation fighter aircraft.

More than one billion dollars of MILCON is planned through 2027 to make way for six F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) squadrons. The MCAS Cherry Point F-35 Program will require the complete recapitalization of antiquated aviation operations and support facilities to accept the squadrons over an eight-year period. The modernization program will entail projects to construct new aviation facilities, renovate outmoded facilities, overhaul installation infrastructure, upgrade utilities, improve roadways and enhance airfield security.

“The improvements planned along the flight line will endure for decades and provide the infrastructure and facilities necessary to support Marine Aviation,” said Facilities Asset Manager Don Elliott.

Planning, design and contract negotiation and awards for the program have been underway since 2009. The overall plan includes details such as:

  • Design and construction of three state-of-the-art, two-module aircraft maintenance hangars. Each hangar can support two squadrons. New construction of an air traffic control tower, range support facility, airfield operations building, F-35 simulator facility and aviation maintenance support facilities;
  • Demolition of a number of obsolete airfield and station facilities;
  • Construction and renovation of supporting facilities that will support maintenance personnel and functions; and
  • In depth enhancement of training capabilities;

Elliott stated, there have been three major projects awarded to date including improvements to flight line security, utility and infrastructure improvements along Sixth Avenue and the first two-module F-35 hangar. The projects will be closely followed by the construction of the new airfield operations facility, or air traffic control tower, and the F-35 Simulator Facility this summer.

The facilities asset manager added, there have been other smaller projects underway to help make room for those major projects, which include the planned relocation of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Communication Strategy and Operations, 2nd MAW Air Combat Intelligence, Marine Air Logistics Squadron 14 Individual Material Readiness List (specialized equipment storage facility) and Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 Supply. The relocation of the Central Issue Facility and subsequent demolition of warehouse 144 was also in support of the planned new facilities.

Three of the oldest flight line hangars (Buildings 130, 1700 and 1701) that once served as aviation operations and support facilities were demolished during the first and second quarter of fiscal year 2020, and has left a gaping, noticeable change to the flight line landscape.

According to the ROICC, the demolition project is complete and the cleared area is the future site for the new F-35 hangars.

“It is the first visible evidence a period of transformation is underway,” said MCAS Cherry Point Commanding Officer Col. Mikel Huber.

“The view along Sixth Avenue is wide open,” said MCAS Cherry Point Resident Officer In Charge of Construction (RIOCC) Lt. Cmdr. Dave Dreyer. “The $5.3 million demolition project has cleared the site for construction of the first of the F-35 hangars.”

The first hangar project, has been awarded and is currently in the design phase and construction is scheduled to start in the fall — a $105 million project.

“We’re planning for construction of the hangars and affiliated paraloft facility, which will bring a flurry of additional construction vehicle traffic,” said Dreyer.

Utilities upgrades and road construction

Next is an extensive construction project to upgrade a substantial amount of infrastructure and reconstruct one of the installation’s well-traveled streets. The contract has been awarded and construction is underway to upgrade the utilities along Sixth Avenue and to widen a portion of C Street.

The project will go in phases to lessen the potential impact on the community, said Huber, which begins with the extension of Fifth Avenue as a detour route once Sixth Avenue closes. The ROICC said work is already underway to clear the wooded area at the point where the extension will connect the two streets.

When Sixth Avenue closes, current parking options along the way will be inaccessible. The first of three parking lots in the plan will be added to support tenants of various buildings along Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

C Street will be widened from its intersection of Second Avenue to Sixth Avenue. The street’s widening is aimed at mitigating the effects of the changed traffic pattern and the anticipated increase in traffic volume along the route. According to the ROICC, a turning lane will be added to facilitate optimal traffic flow.

“The reality is there will be a period of inconvenience the air station will endure in order to achieve this significant step forward in capability,” said Huber. “We are hopeful that the phased approach to accomplishing the utility project will lessen the impact to the community.”

Transformation and modernization of MCAS Cherry Point is projected through 2027. Installation leaders and managers will provide periodic updates and applicable information as things progress. Find more information HERE.



COVID-19 Update from ACT Board President

March 27, 2020


We want you to know that ACT and its professional team continue to press hard for Cherry Point. The Air Station and FRC East have been the subject of several conference calls and discussions with Congressional staff and local leaders over the last ten days.

1. The latest federal COVID relief bill, what the media and politicians are calling the CARES Act, should be signed by the President later today. It is a huge 880 page, $2.2 TRILLION package with something for most everyone. For our purposes right now, we are focusing on how it impacts the Defense Department and military contractors.

a. Representative Mac Thornberry, former Chair of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), current senior Republican on the HASC, and friend to ACT said about the CARES Act: “This stimulus package includes provisions important to our men and women in uniform and their families. It pro-vides re-sources vital to the Military’s efforts to assist in pandemic response around the country, from deploying hospital ships to the search for a vaccine. It also provides resources needed to care for those in the military community who are infected with COVID-19. We need to give our military the resources it needs to get on with their important work.”

2. MCAS Cherry Point Slocum and Main gates remain open. However, additional ID checks are being conducted along with strict enforcement of military and retired access only to the commissary; most gathering spots are closed. All visits to base should be limited to an essential purpose. The message from the USMC is to protect our Marines from COVID-19 so they can train and do their duty.

3. FRC East remains fully operational. Those who can telework are doing so, but most employees are on the job in the FRC East buildings. Supporting the warfighter remains their top priority and so far COVID has not stopped their mission.

Please continue to follow CDC guidelines and adhere to any guidance issued by federal, state and local authorities as they are implemented for the health and safety of our community.


Will Lewis
ACT Board President


Marine Corps Aviator is First Pilot to Cross 1,000 Hour Threshold in F-35 Lightning II

January 30, 2020


From www.marines.mil
January 29, 2020

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brian W. Bann, a Marine Corps F-35B pilot, became the first military pilot to accumulate more than 1,000 flight hours in the F-35 Lightning II (U.S. Marine Corps)

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brian W. Bann, a Marine Corps F-35B pilot, became the first military pilot to accumulate more than 1,000 flight hours in the F-35 Lightning II (U.S. Marine Corps)

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brian W. Bann, a Marine Corps F-35B pilot, became the first military pilot to accumulate more than 1,000 flight hours in the F-35 Lightning II when he delivered a new production F-35B to Marine Aircraft Group 13 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Yuma, Ariz. on December 11.

Lt. Col. Bann was commissioned in the Marine Corps in 2000 and has since accumulated over
3,000 hours in fighter aircraft. He previously flew the AV-8B Harrier II with Marine Attack
Squadron 211 at MCAS Yuma, Ariz. and the F-16 Fighting Falcon with the 55th Fighter Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base (AFB), S.C. while serving on an inter-service pilot exchange tour with the U.S. Air Force. On April 8, 2013, Bann became one of the first Marine Corps pilots, and the 81st pilot ever, to fly the Joint Strike Fighter at Eglin AFB, Fla. He then served as an F-35B Instructor Pilot and helped stand up Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 at MCAS Beaufort, S.C.

Bann is currently assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency at the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. As the F-35 Acceptance Pilot and Government Flight Representative, Bann conducts acceptance check flights on all three variants of the F-35 (F-35A/B/C) production aircraft, often delivering them to operational F-35 units.

The Marine Corps currently has approximately 100 F-35Bs and F-35Cs in its inventory, based at
MCAS Yuma, Ariz., MCAS Beaufort, S.C., MCAS Miramar, Calif., and MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.


Ten Reasons the F-35 Fighter is Poised to have a Super Year in 2020

January 20, 2020


By Loren Thompson, www.Forbes.com
January 9, 2020

The U.S. Air Force variant of the F-35 will likely be the most ubiquitous tactical aircraft in the world through mid-century. Thousands will be built.

The F-35 fighter program continues its march towards dominance of the global market for tactical aircraft. The U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps have all declared their versions of the plane operational, as have Israel, Italy, Japan, Norway, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

The stealthy F-35, designed to be versatile and affordable, is rapidly becoming the global standard for tactical air power. No other fighter program approaches its scale or acceptance among the world’s militaries. That is great news for companies like BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and United Technologies, each of which counts F-35 as its biggest military program.

Having been associated with airframe prime contractor Lockheed Martin and several other corporate participants on F-35 since the program’s inception, I can remember the years when critics were assailing F-35 from all sides and its survival was by no means assured. Those times now seem long gone. Here is a brief compendium of facts explaining why 2020 will likely be another banner year for the Pentagon’s biggest weapons program.

Nearly 500 aircraft delivered. The ramp-up of F-35 production for domestic and foreign users continues. After producing only 66 planes during the first year of the Trump presidency and 91 during 2018, last year the program assembled 131 fighters in three variants. The plan in future years, already covered by signed commitments from the U.S. and foreign governments, is for over 140 F-35s in 2020, 160 in 2021, and over 170 in 2022. Last year was the third year in a row Lockheed met or exceeded its production goals.

Prices falling steadily. Every new production lot of the F-35 costs less per plane than the previous one, and less than government estimators predicted. Under an agreement signed with the Pentagon last year, the average price of each fighter will fall 12-13% between 2019 and 2022. The most common variant of F-35 will cost less to build in future years than the far less capable fighters it is replacing. The most expensive variant of F-35—the Marine vertical-takeoff fighter—now costs less to build ($108 million) than the cheapest list price quoted for a Boeing 737 jetliner ($122 million).

Meeting performance goals. F-35 far exceeds the survivability and lethality of legacy fighters it replaces in air-to-air, air-to-ground, electronic warfare, and intelligence-gathering missions. These performance features have been verified in over 240,000 hours of flight. In military exercises F-35 typically defeats over 20 adversary aircraft for every loss it takes, thanks to the inability of opposing aircraft to track it and the pilot’s unprecedented situational awareness.

Readiness rising continuously. The mission-capable rate of U.S.-operated F-35s rose from 55% in the fourth quarter of 2018 to 73% a year later. For the entire global fleet, including foreign users, the increase during the same period was from 45% to 65%. The aircraft’s main engine, built by the Pratt & Whitney unit of United Technologies, is achieving a mission-capable rate of over 95%, exceeding program reliability goals. Lockheed Martin has offered the government a life-cycle sustainment proposal that would guarantee an 80% mission-capable rate for F-35s at a price no greater than the cost of sustaining last-generation fighters. 80% is the government’s objective for all tactical aircraft.

A thousand pilots trained. As the year began, 975 F-35 pilots had been trained, as had 8,585 maintainers proficient in keeping the fighter ready for combat. The number of trained pilots and maintainers continues rising, while the number of bases around the world at which they are stationed has risen to over 20.

Operated by nine nations. Nine countries are now operating F-35 on their home soil. All three domestic military services receiving F-35 and several foreign military services have declared the fighter operational. In fact, four services have conducted combat operations using the fighter, including Israeli air operations over Syria and other neighboring countries.

Lower cost per flying hour. As production and performance risks have been retired, attention has turned increasingly to operational affordability. The Air Force has set a goal of reducing the cost per flight hour by $6,500—an objective it sees as critical to sustaining all 1,763 F-35s it plans to purchase. Lockheed Martin is already nearly halfway to that goal as a result of various savings initiatives being implemented. The company’s performance-based logistics proposal would guarantee an 80% mission-capable rate at a cost per flight hour of no more than $25,000. Attaining desired savings depends partly on the government taking a more flexible approach to supporting the aircraft.

Supply shortages abating. Maintaining an adequate supply of spare parts is usually a challenge when fielding new military aircraft. In October of 2018 37% of F-35s in the global fleet (allied planes included) were not mission-capable due to supply shortages. By the end of 2019 that figure had been reduced to 17%. Not coincidentally, the portion of F-35s rated mission-capable in the global fleet has risen during the same period from less than half to two-thirds. Over 90% of parts used on the fighter are performing at or above planned reliability.

Export sales growing. As production increases, a growing number of F-35s are destined for overseas customers such as Australia and Israel. Nearly 40% of the 478 fighters to be built under a $34 billion procurement agreement signed last year will be used by overseas allies. Meanwhile Lockheed Martin continues to meet success in seeking new foreign customers. A large number of the 220,000 domestic jobs sustained by the program are tied to foreign sales. The F-35’s main engine alone supports over 27,000 U.S. jobs.

Risks shifting to contractors. Under the performance-based logistics concept Lockheed Martin has proposed to the government, much of the cost risk associated with F-35 life-cycle sustainment would shift to industry. The company is offering a fixed price well below the projected cost for keeping the F-35 in a high state of readiness, and has begun competing suppliers to achieve improved pricing on key components. Government cost avoidance associated with the public-private partnership Lockheed envisions will likely prove irresistible during a period of flat to declining defense budgets.

To summarize, the F-35 program is progressing rapidly, and looks poised to dominate tactical aircraft markets for the foreseeable future. Although some challenges remain, mainly on the logistics side, the world’s biggest weapons program at this point looks to be a smashing success. 2020 should be another banner year.

Source: Forbes.com


F35 Rapid Response Team Mechanics Prepared to Deploy

January 08, 2020

Photo of FRC East F-35 repair team

By Heather Wilburn, FRC East

CHERRY POINT — When issues arise with an F-35 Lightning II, a team of highly skilled aircraft maintenance professionals stands ready to rise to the challenge and get the jet back in the fight.

Whether the aircraft requires in-service repair or battle damage needs mending, the F-35 Rapid Response Team is ready to pack up and go, according to a recent release from Fleet Readiness Center East.

“Anything that happens outside the depot – for the Navy, Marines or Air Force – anywhere around the world, they call us and we can deploy these RRT team members at a moment’s notice. We go out to wherever that site may be and perform that repair,” said David Thorpe, F-35 branch head at FRC-East, where the team is headquartered.

The RRT consists of expert, cross-trained artisans who hold journey-level, expert status in at least one trade, and no lower than skilled, worker-level status in others. Having team members with multiple skill sets allows for flexibility when determining which configuration of the team to deploy, Mr. Thorpe said.

“The F-35 Rapid Response Team is like a maintenance and repair special operations force,” he explained. “The concept is that we can send fewer people and they can help each other do the work.”

The flexible configuration means the team can pick and choose which artisans to deploy to a mission, based on what the technical requirements will be. Some jobs require more expertise in certain trades than others. For example, a recent RRT mission to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., called for a dedicated low observable coating technician and a painter. Those skills sets aren’t required for every mission but were necessary in this instance because the repair required high expertise in reapplying the coating.

“Sometimes the team is not just the airframer, sheet metal mechanic and electrician. Sometimes we send the painter, or the LO technician,” Mr. Thorpe said. “We also have quality assurance specialists who are ready to go when depot-level quality needs are required to incorporate the repair and sign it off.”

Richard Lee Stiver Jr., an RRT airframes mechanic, agrees cross-training plays a large role in the team’s success.

“You have to know the airplane,” he said. “I’m airframes, sheet metal, and LO-qualified. We have to have the drive and understanding to do the things we’re tasked to do, and we also have to be able to retain the knowledge from all the trades across the board that we need to know. That plays a huge role in our success as a team: knowing each other’s jobs, and the ability for us to work together.”

The recent mission to Edwards involved a repair in a location that presented accessibility challenges and therefore also required expertise in low observable coating and paint restoration. The team had to remove a large panel from the aircraft in order to complete the repair – a panel that was not designed for removal under normal maintenance action, Mr. Thorpe said.

“A lot had to work in concert to get that aircraft back to a mission-capable status. We’ve got a lot of experience in taking off these big panels and putting them back down, but there are often complications involved in that,” he said of the repair, which involved an aircraft in the F-35 initial testing, operation and evaluation program with Navy Test and Evaluation Squadron 9, Det. Edwards.

“There were a lot of unknowns, because this particular skin removal hadn’t been done previously, but we were able to get the job done without many complications,” Mr. Thorpe continued. Engineers supply the team with the appropriate technical data prior to the mission, and that provides a solid jumping-off point; however, work doesn’t always go as planned, especially with first-time repairs.

“We ran into hiccups, just like with anything that’s never been done before, and we worked through them,” he said. “It was pretty difficult, but we wanted to keep our foot on the gas. Our team worked long hours and weekends to produce a quality product, safely and as quickly as possible, to support the warfighter and meet the mission – and we got really good reviews on the finished product.”

The unknowns of each mission are part of what drives the team to work harder, Mr. Stiver added.

“Not knowing what you’re getting into, and being able to push through it, stand back at the end and say, ‘That was a good time,’ is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job,” he said. “This feels a lot better than going somewhere for 30 days and doing a mundane fix. We thrive on the challenge.”

Source: CarolinaCoastOnline.com