F-35A, Maintainers Demonstrate Global Reach
When the Air Force declared the F-35A ready for combat in August 2016, Airmen at Hill Air Force Base knew they could be asked to deploy overseas at any time.
Since April 15 more than 200 Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings have been deployed overseas with 8 F-35As for the first time to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.
"Any time we get a chance to mobilize and deploy, it sharpens our skills," said Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander. "It's an exciting time to be a part of the F-35A program and I am extremely proud of all our Airmen.”
From a small maintenance bay at Lakenheath, the maintainers generated 76 sorties and sustained a mission capable rate of 88 percent.
A key objective for the maintainers was testing their “deployed spares package,” a kit of spare parts and tools that could “keep them healthy” and flying for weeks as they established an F-35A sustainment supply chain. They’re pleased with the kits. They only had to special-order two parts during the deployment. As more countries begin to receive the F-35, the global supply chain will be critical in overseas deployments.