Week of 5/28/2020

F-35 Sustainment Delivers Despite COVID-19

Last week, I announced our path forward to mitigate COVID-19 related supplier delays and better support social distancing on the F-35 Production Line. We began these efforts this week by implementing the temporary, adjusted work schedule for F-35 Production Employees in Fort Worth.

Despite these changes, the F-35 enterprise does not see significant COVID-19 impacts to the supply chain. Our F-35 Supply Performance continues to provide outstanding warfighter support, and the F-35 Sustainment Supply Chain sees minimal impacts. Our sustainment supply strength means we continue to provide exceptional and uninterrupted service to our men and women in uniform.

I want to emphasize throughout the enterprise our support to customers in the field continues to exceed expectations. The overall mission capable rate of the F-35 fleet continues to increase from a 68% mission capable rate in January to 72% today. These rising mission capable rates show F-35 Sustainment continues to not only maintain our performance, but improve it.

The Flight Line is the Center of Gravity and we must continue to support our customers’ missions. Your work enables 24/7 Sustainment support across the globe, and I thank you for your efforts.

Norwegian F-35s Take Flight with U.S. B-1Bs

Last week, Norwegian F-35s took to the skies with B-1B Lancer Bombers over the Nordic region of Europe. The F-35s flew tactical sorties with the B-1s and a low approach over Ørland Air Station, the home of Norway's

F-35 fleet.

"Long-range bomber training missions strengthen our steadfast partnerships with allies across both Europe and Africa and showcase our ability to respond globally from anywhere," USAFE commander Gen. Jeff Harrigian said in a news release. "This mission further enhances our interoperability capabilities by taking groundbreaking steps to incorporate our partners to generate seamless operations."

This exercise marks the latest in a series of long-range bomber task force missions, which show the United States' ability to respond quickly and conduct operations to support our allies and partners. Great work to the team and I'm glad to see the F-35s supporting the NATO mission.

Celebrating 65 Years of the U-2 Mission

I make it no secret, one of my favorite airplanes is the U-2 Dragon Lady. Our friends at Skunk Works® recently began a yearlong campaign to celebrate 65 years of supporting the Air Force’s mission with the U-2. Let’s look back on where the U-2 has been and where it’s headed.

Sixty-five years ago, Lockheed Skunk Works® Chief Engineer Kelly Johnson had a clear vision to design an aircraft capable of flying over the Soviet Union without detection. He envisioned a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft that would provide the United States with a new set of eyes in the sky, flying above the reach of Soviet anti-aircraft fire.

When Johnson learned Dwight D. Eisenhower and Central Intelligence Agency Director Allen Dulles had already signed off on two competing designs for a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, he was undeterred and made an offer that could not be refused. He assumed complete responsibility for any maintenance and service — an entirely new concept in aviation — and planned to have a U-2 in the air in just eight months. Johnson barely missed his deadline, delivering the first U-2 for a test flight nine months later. The U-2 Dragon Lady was born.

Since then, the aircraft has continued to evolve to meet the needs of the mission and shape future battlespace operations. The U-2 continues to play a critical role in demonstrating and rapidly fielding emerging technologies that will help us win tomorrow’s battles. I am proud of my time as a Skunk and I look forward to celebrating 65 years of the Dragon Lady this year. F-35 Nation, that’s a wrap, take care of yourselves and each other.