Week of 4/16/2020

Remembering Claude Daniels

This week, the F-35 program lost one of our own. Claude Daniels, a Material Handler on the F-35 Production Line, passed away after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. On behalf of the entire F-35 enterprise, I extend my deepest sympathies to his family.

A Lockheed Martin employee for 42 years, Claude’s work enabled our men and women in uniform to perform their missions and come home safely. Claude was a great teammate, and I urge everyone to remember and honor his service to our company – and country.

Our people are our number one asset and we will do everything we can to ensure your health and safety while performing our important work for our customers. I do not take lightly that the United States government deems our work critical to the defense of our country and the vital role you play in supporting that mission. Please know, we continue to go to great lengths to provide a safe and clean work environment, consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. And if we are falling short, please let your supervisor know.

Our employees are what makes Lockheed Martin great. Without you, the F-35 program would not be possible. Please take care of yourselves and your families and we will get through this together.

F-35 Enterprise Adapts to Changing World

No matter the mission, the F-35 continues to perform around the globe. The team at Eglin Air Force Base has taken steps to combat the potential spread of COVID-19 while continuing to execute training missions.

Within 24 hours of the first confirmed COVID-19 case of a service member at Eglin, airmen at the 58th Fighter Squadron created and implemented a new work schedule using a split-team concept. The split-team concept means one team spends a week in the simulator while the other trains on the flight line, and after one week they switch locations. Other squadrons around the world are following their lead implementing the split-team approach.

Back in Fort Worth, teams from across the F-35 enterprise continue to evolve our techniques and systems to help our customers operate in a COVID-19 world. Recently, we received an Action Request to decontaminate the F-35 cockpit and oxygen system due to potential COVID-19 contamination. The team came together and took the opportunity to communicate to the entire F-35 fleet the appropriate decontamination process.

These are just two of many examples of how you’ve come together and respond to challenging events around us. Thank you for all your doing to support our customer's mission.

Final F-35A Air National Guard Bases Selected

This week, the Air Force selected Truax Field, Wisconsin, and Dannelly Field, Alabama, for the next two Air National Guard F-35A Lightning II locations. The 115th and 187th Fighter Wings will receive F-35As in 2023.

Truax Field’s 115th Fighter Wing in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field’s 187thFighter Wing in Alabama join Burlington Air National Guard Base in Vermont as the first three Air National Guard F-35A operating locations. The two bases have been under consideration as the “preferred alternatives” of five candidate bases for the past three years. They had to complete their environmental impact assessment to finalize the decision.

This decision will help continue the Air Force’s transition to the F-35A. The F-35As for Wisconsin and Alabama Air National Guard will replace the older F-16 aircraft they currently operate. Still, the Air Force will continue to fly a mix of 5th and 4th Generation fighters into the 2040s. This decision allows the Air Force to maintain enough fighters to meet combatant commander requirements, provide the required training and allow a reasonable and uninterrupted deployment tempo for the force.

The selection of both of these bases will create positive economic impacts in Wisconsin and Alabama. I am excited about the job and community impacts the F-35 program will bring to the states.

Congrats to both Truax and Dannelly Field and welcome to F-35 Nation!

Dragon Lady’s New Lease On Life

One of my favorite airplanes, the Dragon Lady, just got an upgrade. Our friends at Skunk Works® will implement a comprehensive avionics upgrade to the U-2.

The new suite of capabilities will give the U-2 a new lease on life and contribute to the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS).

The upgrade includes a new mission computer, cockpit displays and the ability for easy, affordable follow-on upgrades in the future. This modernization effort will provide the backbone for enhanced mission capabilities and will give pilots the ability to collect data and respond faster.

“We’re really breathing new life into the capabilities of this platform,” says Irene Helley, U-2 program director for Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. “Most of these jets were being built in the late 1980s and ’90s and have only averaged about 17,000 flight hours, so [they] have about 80% of their airframe life remaining and still have so much more to give.”

I am proud of my time as a Skunk and I want to congratulate the entire team for their work to grow and support the U-2 mission well into the future.

F-35 Nation, that’s a wrap, take care of yourselves and each other.

To learn more about the upgrade: Click Here