Week of 10/31/2019

$80 Million F-35 

This week, the F-35 program made history. We announced the F-35 Lot 12-14 contract with the Pentagon. This is the biggest F-35 contract of all time and covers 478 total F-35s. This achieves our long-standing affordability target of $80 million by 2020, one year ahead of schedule.

This milestone shows the ability to provide 5th Generation capabilities at a 4th Generation price. This is a result of smart acquisition strategies, strong government-industry partnerships and a relentless focus on quality.

The F-35 fleet continues to expand. Today, over 435 jets soar through the air, 910 pilots stand mission ready, 8,350 maintainers keep our jets in the air, and the F-35 calls 19 bases around the world home. These are not small numbers so let's celebrate this milestone and keep the momentum going toward our ramp to full-rate production.

F-35 Enterprise, this is a great testament to the entire program that we find ourselves able to deliver 5th Generation transformational capabilities at a 4th Generation price of less than $80M, one year ahead of our target. My hat is off to you as we focus on delivering the 478 aircraft associated with Lots 12 through 14 affordably and with high quality. We must continue our diligence to get further cost out, not only for the aircraft production but just as important for the sustainment of the F-35.

First F-35 Touches Down In Leeuwarden for Permanent Basing

Today, under sunny skies, the first Dutch F-35A arrived home. The fighter landed at Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands, just a few hours ago. This is a key milestone for the program, demonstrating our ability to provide next-generation airpower throughout the world.

Our Dutch partnership stems from the early days of the F-35 program. Dutch suppliers provided high volume production and structural design support. Today, the Dutch support ongoing tests and operations for the growing F-35 fleet.

The F-35’s strength stems from our partners’ strength. I am proud of the positive impact the F-35 makes on the Dutch economy. Twenty-five Dutch suppliers benefit from key technology contracts that bring jobs to the Netherlands.

As the F-35 global fleet continues to grow so does our Dutch partnership. The Dutch will provide sustainment operations and maintenance to the European F-35 fleet as we open the F-35 Regional Warehouse at Logistics Center Woensdrecht on Nov. 1. This sustainment capability will ensure the European F-35s safeguard the skies for decades to come. Great work to the team, and let’s keep these jets in the air!

ITF Test Pilots Raise the Bar

This week, I want to highlight the Test Pilots of the F-35 Integrated Task Force (ITF): Nathan J Gray, Lt. Cmdr. Peter Wilson, Squadron Leader Andrew Edgell, and USMC Maj. Michael Lippert. These men received the Eric “Winkle” Brown Memorial Award for their exceptional contributions in the First of Class Flight Trials for HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The ITF conducts development testing for all F-35 models across all partner nations. These four pilots conducted trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth last autumn. This testing was one of the most complex and highest profile flight test programs ever conducted by the ITF.

To prepare for the trials, the team used highly technical simulations that pushed the boundaries of testing. These simulations incorporated flight control laws on the F-35B model of the HMS Queen Elizabeth and created data to help the team on the ship.

These hours of preparation led to incredible results. “Your [ITF] collective efforts have verified, confirmed and discovered F-35 and Queen Elizabeth Class performance boundaries and capabilities that will shape the warfighters’ path for many decades to come," said former F-35 Program Executive Officer, Vice Adm. Matt Winter.

Congratulations to the F-35 ITF! Your efforts pave the way for decades of excellence on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Frequently Asked Question: What’s the deal with “the door?”

Have you ever looked at the F-35B in hover mode and thought, “What is that open door?” Well, Wing Cmdr. Adam Curd, Royal Air Force F-35 pilot, explains its function in an awesome video linked below.

Two primary components allow the F-35 to hover, the LiftFan® and 3-Bearing Swivel Module (3BSM). The LiftFan® is mounted horizontally right behind the cockpit. As the aircraft transitions to hover mode, two doors open on top of the aircraft and the two counter-rotating fans blow about 20,000 pounds of unheated air straight down, producing almost half of the downward thrust needed for a pure hover mode.