Military News

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pentagon says F-35 program on the right track

By Mitch Shaw , Hilltop Times correspondent / Published December 29, 2015

F-35A Lightning II Conventional Takeoff and Landing Variant
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office say they've finished delivering jets for 2015, increasing their yield from last year by 25 percent.

Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman with the F-35 office at the Pentagon, said 45 F-35s were delivered, which met Lockheed and the program office's delivery goal for the year and exceeded last year's deliveries by nine jets.

"Meeting aircraft production goals is a critical stepping stone in demonstrating the program is ready for the expected significant production ramp up," Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program’s executive officer, said in a press release.

Lorraine Martin, Lockheed's F-35 program general manager, said the 2015 deliveries were "a clear demonstration of our growing maturity and stability."

The performance boost represents good news for Hill Air Force Base, which accepted its first two jets in September and will continue to count on a steady income of fighters until 2019 to fill three F-35 squadrons.

Base spokesman Rich Essary said it has received a total five jets so far, with the next one scheduled to arrive in January. Essary said the plan is for Hill AFB to continue to accept jets at a rate of one or two each month until they receive their full allotment of 72.

By August 2016, the base hopes to have 15 jets in place in order to reach what the Air Force calls "initial operational capability," which means Hill AFB has met the minimum goal to use the jets for normal operations.

On Dec. 11, Maj. Jayson Rickard, a reservist with the 466th Fighter Squadron, flew the 100th F-35 sortie at Hill AFB since the first combat aircraft arrived in September.

Of the 45 jets delivered in 2015, the lion's share has gone to the Air Force, which has received 26 F-35As. The Marine Corps received eight F-35Bs and the Marines and the Navy each accepted four F-35Cs, which can take off and land vertically from aircraft carriers.

DellaVedova said 154 operational F-35s have been delivered to the Department of Defense and partner nations since the program's inception. The fleet has more than 45,000 flight hours. The multirole fighter will eventually replace the Air Force's entire fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.

Hanscom employee captures DOD-level award

by Patty Welsh
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

12/23/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Department of Defense has recognized a Hanscom employee with a prestigious product support award.

Perry Hill,  product support manager and chief of logistics for the C3I and Networks Directorate's Space, Aerial and Nuclear Networks Division, recently won the 2015 Secretary of Defense Product Support Manager Award in the category of Major Weapon System/Other Weapon System, acquisition category II or below.

According to DOD, the award recognizes PSMs as "important partners" in providing the best product support for warfighters. In the memo from the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics soliciting nominees for the award, it says "the Product Support Manager (PSM) is a critical program position in delivering weapon system readiness affordably and effectively."

"Perry revolutionized our support to critical warfighting systems," said Col. Todd Krueger, Space, Aerial and Nuclear Networks Division senior materiel leader. "His initiatives and innovative solutions are paying huge dividends in controlling life cycle costs while ensuring world class sustainment."

Hill's ability to create efficiencies helped him garner the award.

For example, his multi-program executive officer's approved process for linking product support execution across the division's 20-plus programs and projects connected development and sustainment and resulted in the creation of a combined life cycle planning and execution team. He also looked for opportunities to create business models to eliminate overlapping capabilities, leading to savings for the Air Force and, ultimately, the taxpayer.

"He is simply the best in his field," Krueger said. "Perry is renowned for his exceptional knowledge and skill. You can't effectively accomplish full life cycle management responsibility without an outstanding product support manager, and Perry sets the example."

Hill delivered weapon system support by driving development of an integrated maintenance schedule that enabled sustainment of the $1.6 billion Battlefield Airborne Communications Node fleet in theater with a 90 percent aircraft availability rate and a 100 percent mission effectiveness rate.

According to Krueger, Hill is also responsible for sustainment planning, execution and transition for numerous airborne networking and satellite communication (SATCOM) terminal programs. In addition, he led product support efforts for the division's nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) programs, ensuring the entire life cycle was considered during initial strategy development.

And technical expertise was not the only area noted. According to his nomination package, Hill worked to improve professional development of the life cycle logistics workforce by developing a monthly academic and leadership development program to enhance critically needed skillsets.

"Perry is a phenomenal leader and teacher," Krueger said. "He saw the need for strong mentoring and on his own initiative he developed his unique and informative program."

Hill praised others for helping him win.

"The credit goes to HNA [Space, Aerial and Nuclear Networks Division] and C3I&N PEO who have provided me with strong leadership support and an outstanding support cast to make this happen," he said. "I'm certainly indebted to them and the team for all they've done."

The winners of the PSM awards will be acknowledged at the Spring 2016 Office of the Secretary of Defense Product Support Manager/Performance-Based Logistics Workshop.

Chaplain helps others through own experience

by Airman 1st Class Gabrielle Spradling
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/23/2015 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The road to faith can be a rocky path, but the attitude along the way is what makes the trip worthwhile.

Chaplain Jim Bridgham, 140th Wing chaplain, believes that every good story has drama and shapes who a person becomes.

Throughout his life, Bridgham had many bumps in the road, but he always used them as learning experiences.

Bridgham grew up in government housing in a poor suburb of Boston, with a very limited faith background. However, he received a scholarship to attend a local Catholic school because of his family's occasional attendance to the church. Both of Bridgham's parents worked full time and his father also went to school, so he was left to take public transportation. While his parents were at work Bridgham's grandfather, a retired Navy chief, took care of him.

"The only thing I remember wanting to do as a kid was to be in the military," Bridgham said.

According to Bridgham, the education he received through the Catholic school allowed him to receive a ROTC scholarship. That was the only way he was able to go to college.

While at the University of Tampa, Bridgham met his wife and, through a local group, they both became Christians. This changed the course of their lives and, throughout his college career, Bridgham led several Bible studies and worked at a local church.
After college Bridgham commissioned as an active duty intelligence officer in the U.S. Air Force. During his time on active duty, he travelled around the United States and also had three overseas deployments. Bridgham then decided to attend Denver Seminary in Littleton, Colorado, and during his first year there became a chapel candidate, which meant starting back at the bottom of the officer tier.

"I got to be a second lieutenant twice in my career, which is my little claim to fame," said Bridgham.

During his three years in seminary, Bridgham did not make much money to support his wife and their two children so he worked as a janitor every day, before and after class. His family also received aid from local churches and a food bank.

The stress that he felt throughout seminary caused him to gain a lot of weight from drinking Mountain Dew to stay awake and get all of his work done.  After one tough day of physical assessments and school testing failures, Bridgham decided it was time to ditch the Dew and start a healthier lifestyle.

"Over the course of six months I lost over 90 pounds and ran my first half marathon," said Bridgham. "I also scored nearly perfect on my fitness assessment, with a 99 percent."

Running helps Bridgham in his everyday life by providing a stress relief and he continues to be a runner today.

As a father of three, a husband and now a Colorado Air National Guard chaplain, Bridgham juggles a lot of tasks, such as activities for his kids and helping all branches of the military in not only work but also personal matters.

The people of Team Buckley are the focus of Bridgham's work and he wants everyone to be as successful as they can be.

"I genuinely care for the people I interact with, what I do is who I am," said Bridgham.
A big way that the chaplain helps people is by being there as a guiding light during times of tragedy. He supports people during the deaths of loved ones, internal struggles and issues with deployments. The hardest part of the job is notification of death when there are children involved, said Bridgham. It doesn't matter whether it is suicide or wartime death, the family still hurts.

Chaplain Bridgham prides himself on relating to everyone so that he can help them in the way they need.

"I love being with people, I love seeing their stories and helping them connect the pieces, so they can see when they've had a rough patch that that's just part of a great story that they're writing," said Bridgham. "I believe that with all my heart."

Bridgham finds that if he can connect with people on their level then he can help them sort through their problems better.

"One of my big passions is gaming and working with folks who love games," said Bridgham. "Recently I started an initiative where I've been writing and talking at venues about the intersection of faith and gaming."

The goal of Bridgham's project is to show people that you can connect faith to any interest you may have.

"I will never shove my faith down your throat, but what I will do is help you get through whatever it is you are going through no matter what it is," said Bridgham.

The job of being a chaplain is difficult, and requires a lot of understanding, passion and caring. Chaplain Bridgham exudes all these characteristics and he asks for little in return. His simple request is he wants to leave a great legacy.

All of the hardships Bridgham encountered during his childhood, college years and adult life have shaped him into a valuable resource for Team Buckley. He hopes to continue to serve Buckley AFB and make an impact on as many people as possible, both in and out of the chapel.