September 20, 2013 (by George F. Jozens) - Several hundred people gathered in hangar 237 to witness the first F-35A Lightning II which arrived for depot level maintenance during a ceremony hosted by the Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander, Maj. Gen. H. Brent Baker Sr.
The first F-35A Lightning II to arrive at Hill AFB sits on display in front of a hangar the morning of September 20th, 2013. Hill, Lockheed Martin and Utah elected officials and community members gathered for a ceremony to commemorate the beginning of F-35 depot maintenance at Hill AFB. [USAF photo by Alex R. Lloyd]
The ceremony addressed Hill's key role in the depot repair and the F-35's role in national defense by several different speakers which included Sen. Mike Lee; Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin's Executive Vice President and General Manager of the F-35 Lightning II
Program; Rear Adm. Randolph Mahr, DOD
F-35 Deputy Program Director; Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, Air Force Sustainment Center commander and Sen. Orrin Hatch.
Baker was the final speaker and gave the order to open the doors and unveil the aircraft to the capacity packed hangar's attendees. Other dignitaries at the ceremony included local mayors, Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell and members of the Utah State House and Senate.
The first F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant is from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, Nellis AFB
, Nev., and is in a prototype configuration. The Ogden ALC will modify the aircraft with a series of structural and systems modifications to enhance critical capabilities needed during operational test and evaluation testing.
"For decades the shared partnership between Lockheed Martin the Ogden ALC team has taken our legacy platforms, the F-16, C-130 and F-22, to the next level, and the same will hold true for the F-35 Lightning II," said Lorraine Martin, F-35 vice president and general manager. "This aircraft was designed from its inception to evolve through modifications and upgrades so that our warfighters can continually outpace their opposition. I look forward to what the future holds for the F-35 and am excited to see that evolution unfold."
Litchfield also talked about this historic day in the history of the ALC.
"The F-35 found the right home for sustainment," he said. "Team Hill will deliver cost effective modifications for this aircraft."
The F-35 Lightning II combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will eventually replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force.