by John Parker
72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
9/11/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Top
Marine Corps officials recently visited the Oklahoma City Air Logistics
Complex to deliver a big thank you to the Heavy Maintenance Center F135
Col. William Lieblein, deputy chief of the Marine Corps Aviation Weapons
Branch, attended a celebration marking the engine shop's crucial role
in helping the Marines field the country's first operational F-35
fighter squadron in July.
"Thank you from all the Marines that maintain this aircraft and the
Marines that are flying this aircraft on a daily basis", the qualified
F-35 Lightning II pilot said Sept. 1, 2015. "I want you to know that
everyone throughout the enterprise recognizes that the people who built
this aircraft, who maintain and repair this aircraft, are our most
valuable assets. The people here are the ones ensuring the F-35 program
is successful in the future. We appreciate everything you do."
The Marines fly the F-35B, the short takeoff and vertical landing
version of the Joint Strike Fighter. The Pentagon currently plans to buy
more than 2,400 of the stealthy advanced fighters for the Marines, Air
Force and Navy.
Cheryl Lobo, F135 programs director for engine maker Pratt &
Whitney, called the milestone a "momentous occasion" to celebrate.
The 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group met challenges that included
technical data validation and verification, tooling qualification and
standing up the T9 engine test cell, Lobo said.
Since June 2014, the enterprise team retrofitted 10 engines for the
Marines, adding more thrust and better anti-icing protection, among
"Thank you for your commitment and dedication," Lobo said. "We are very
proud of our longstanding relationship with you here at the Heavy
Maintenance Center, and we're looking forward to all the work that's
ahead of us and all the exciting things to come."
Russell Howard, assistant deputy commandant for Aviation (Sustainment),
Headquarters U.S. Marine Corps, said the 76 PMXG's work was vital to
making Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 operational.
"Those 10 airplanes could go to war tonight," said Howard, a former
engineering director at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center from 2006
to 2010. "They're ready to go because of you. Thank you for what you
did. You are changing the way America does war. This airplane is
OC-ALC Commander Brig. Gen. Mark Johnson thanked the Marine representatives for coming to the complex.
"You get to hear me say 'thanks' all the time," the general told team
members, "but when you get to hear it from the United States Marine
Corps, from our partners in industry, and from an operator who's checked
out to fly this aircraft, I think that says an awful lot."