Week of 2/28/2020

AFA Engagements and Upcoming Milestones

This week I am in Orlando, Fla., where I am meeting with U.S. Air Force and defense leaders to discuss the game-changing capabilities the F-35 brings to the battlespace.

AFA comes at an exciting time for the F-35 program, as we approach three significant milestones. In a few weeks we will deliver the 500th F-35 and train the 1,000th F-35 pilot. And we recently surpassed 250,000 F-35 flight hours.

These milestones signal a new era for the F-35 program. As the F-35 fleet grows, sustainment becomes even more important as we partner with our customers to maximize this amazing capability. We must continue improving our mission readiness rates across the fleet and sustain and grow our supply chain.

Though these milestones are important, the best days of the F-35 program are ahead of us. This year, we will deliver 141 aircraft and by 2023, over 1,000 F-35s will safeguard our skies. I am proud to represent every one of you at AFA discussing your tireless efforts in making the F-35 program what it is today.

Air Force Commanders Celebrate F-35 Achievements at Hill 

Last week, Gen. Mike Holmes, Air Combat Command Commander, and Lt. Gen. Richard Scobee, Air Force Reserve Command Commander, visited Hill Air Force Base. The visit was to commemorate the 388th and the 419th Fighter Wings’ achievement of “full warfighting capability.”

“Full warfighting capability,” means success in three areas: fully trained pilots and maintainers, a full complement of 78 aircraft and the support equipment needed to fly them. Today, the 388th and the 419th Fighter Wings are the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35 units to achieve this milestone.

“The F-35 gives the Air Force and its allies the power to dominate the multi-domain, full spectrum of warfare that we’ll have to be able to do anytime, anywhere,” Gen. Holmes said.

F-35 Nation, this is yet another example of the program’s maturity. The readiness of the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings shows your ability to Perform for our customers and meet their mission requirements.

Water Carrier: F-35 Teams Collaborate and Drive Change

This week, I want to highlight the efforts of the F-35 Finance & Business Operations and the F-35 Supply Chain Management teams.

In 2017, the teams were challenged to improve F-35’s sales forecasting accuracy. The largest component of our sales comes from our supply base. Due to the sheer number of suppliers, accurately forecasting sales from our supply base require significant analytics and coordination. The F-35 program needs to forecast sales accurately because we comprise over 25 percent of the Corporation’s total sales.

To meet this challenge, the two groups began collaborating, meeting regularly and leveraging tools that analyze the details of our Purchase Orders including the timing of supplier parts to F-35. Over the past two years, the teams have improved the program’s overall forecasting accuracy and have developed a process that other Programs across Aero and the Corporation have recognized as a best practice.

While the teams continue to learn and adapt to new information, this cross-functional partnership embodies what it means to Shatter Silos and to be All In. Great work by the teams!

Throwback Thursday: First Successful Aircraft Ejection

Sixty-five short years ago, this week, the first-ever successful aircraft ejection took place. North American Aviation production test pilot George Franklin Smith stopped by the office at the Los Angeles Airport on his day off to fly a brand-new F-100A-20-NA Super Sabre. Smith arrived to fly the final test flight of the F-100A before it was turned over to the U.S. Air Force.

Smith started the test flight and began climbing to 35,000 feet. Something quickly went wrong and a hydraulic system failure caused the Super Sabre to pitch down into a dive. Smith was unable to pull the aircraft out of the dive. To save his life, Smith activated the ejection seat, the parachute opened automatically, and he landed safely.

Today, the F-35 uses the Martin Baker ejection seat. In September 2018, we had an incident in which a U.S. Marine Corps F-35B went down in Beaufort, South Carolina. Thanks to the ejection seat, the pilot safely exited the aircraft.

F-35 Nation, it's the hard work and innovations of our predecessors that inform and improve the F-35 and other aircraft of the future. Thank you for looking back with me…and I'll see you next week!