Week of 9/13/2019

World War II Hero’s In The F-35 Cockpit

This week, I would like to highlight two American hero’s. On Saturday, C.E. “Bud” Anderson and Dean “Diz” Laird visited the Lockheed Martin display at the Tailhook Symposium in Reno, Nevada. Bud and Diz were childhood friends, fellow Boy Scouts and later became World War II flying aces together. Both men made history in the skies and I would like to share some of their important stories.

Bud Anderson was the highest-scoring World War II triple ace. In battles involving hundreds of airplanes, Bud led the Army Air Corps (later the Air Force) with 16 ¼ aerial victories. He flew 116 missions without ever being hit by enemy aircraft. His friend and airmen legend, Chuck Yeager said this about Bud’s flying, "In an airplane, the guy was a mongoose--the best fighter pilot I ever saw."

Bud would go on to serve in Korea and Vietnam and in later life he served as the Chief of Flight Test Operations at Edwards Air Force Base. In his career, he would fly 200 different airplanes and log upwards of 8,000 flight hours. In 2008, Bud was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.His lifelong friend, Diz grew up aspiring to join his brother in the U.S. Army Air Corps. But one day, while watching a newsreel, he saw a story of a battleship at sea with a makeshift flight deck and planes launching into the sky. Certain nothing could be more fun, he earned his wings in the U.S. Navy.

Diz, went on to make aviation history. He is the single-known ace to achieve combat victories in both Europe and the Pacific during World War II. On Oct. 4, 1943, Diz was the first pilot in the U.S. Navy to shoot down a German plane.

Diz would go on to serve in Korea and Vietnam. During his service, he operated 175 combat and training missions, flew on 12 different carriers and was the first person to land a jet-powered aircraft aboard the USS Midway. He holds the record for the most landings on a straight-deck carrier. In 2016, at the young age of 95, he took the controls of a Beechcraft T-34C Turbomentor and flew over San Diego for one final flight.While at Tailhook, Bud and Diz both flew the F-35 cockpit demonstrator and successfully landed the F-35C on the deck of the USS Harry S. Truman. After their flight, they signed the graphic on the backside of our Simulator. It is an honor to have their mark on the F-35 program.

Their legacy is a firm reminder that we’re standing on the shoulders of giants who defended our nation through its darkest hours and brightest moments. I thank them for their service and for continuing to inspire the next generation of airmen and women.

Red Arrows Flyover Fort Worth!

The Royal Air Force Red Arrows are in the Lone Star State. Their visit is part of an ambitious 11-week North American tour; which included a New York City flyover with the F-35 Demo Team and numerous air shows across the continent.

The team conducted a thrilling flyover at our Fort Worth facility. Following the flyover, the Red Arrows took a tour of the production line and hosted an employee session to discuss our partnership with the U.K. and the team’s long history.

It was a sight to see and shows our special relationship with our British partners. Thank you to all who made the event happen and I hope the Red Arrows enjoy their time in Texas!

Viva Italia! First F-35 Assembled in Italy

Today, we rolled out the first F-35A off the Cameri, Italy production line. The jet took its inaugural flight on Monday. The fighter was assembled at the Final Assembly and Check-Out (FACO) in Cameri, Italy.

This milestone represents the strong partnership between Lockheed Martin, the Netherlands, Italy and the F-35 Joint Program office.

Today, 800 skilled employees fire on all cylinders in Cameri. This facility provides F-35 airframe maintenance, repair, overhauls and upgrades to the entire European region. This effort shows what we can accomplish when we work together. It is an honor to work with our partners in the Italian Ministry of Defense and Leonardo to build the fighter of the future together.

Thank you to all of the teams for crossing functions, Shattering Silos and delivering a next-generation aircraft to our customers. Europe plays a vital role in the F-35 program and this accomplishment excites me for our future. Nice work team!

F-35s Used to Target ISIS

This week, U.S. F-35s and F-15s targeted ISIS militants on Qanus Island in Central Iraq. The U.S. led coalition targeted the island to deny a safe haven for the group. Their mission was to disrupt a major ISIS transit hub.

The F-35 made its combat debut in April and I am proud to see the fighter in action protecting our freedom and ensuring that our men and women in uniform perform and execute every mission.