Showing posts with label Air Force. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Air Force. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Declares F-35A Lightning II ‘Combat Ready’

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va., Aug. 3, 2016 — The F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighter aircraft was declared “combat ready” yesterday by Air Force Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter offered his congratulations to the Air Force. 

“This is a significant milestone for an aircraft that will allow the U.S. to maintain the advantage of air superiority for years to come,” Carter said in a statement. “I know that even after being declared combat ready, there is more work to do with this critical program, but the Air Force, Air Combat Command and the men and women of Hill Air Force Base should be proud of this major step forward for the F-35A.”

Carlisle lauded the aircraft’s performance, noting that the aircraft had met all key criteria for reaching initial operational capability: airmen trained, manned and equipped to conduct basic close air support, interdiction and limited suppression/destruction of enemy air defenses in a contested environment with an operational squadron of 12-24 aircraft; the ability to deploy and conduct operational missions using program of record weapons and missions systems; and having all necessary logistics and operational elements in place.

“I am proud to announce this powerful new weapons system has achieved initial combat capability,” Carlisle said. “The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield.”

Fifth-Generation Aircraft

The F-35A is the latest addition to ACC’s fleet of deployable and fifth-generation aircraft, said officials, adding that the aircraft provides air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses and close-air support as well as great command and control functions through fused sensors, and it will provide pilots with unprecedented situational awareness of the battlespace that will be more extensive than any single-seat platform in existence.

“Bringing the F-35A to initial combat readiness is a testament to our phenomenal airmen and the outstanding support of the Joint Program Office and our enterprise partners,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. “This important milestone for our fighter force ensures the United States, along with our allies and international partners, remains prepared to deter, deny, and defeat the full spectrum of growing threats around the globe.”

Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David L. Goldfein said the aircraft’s dynamic new capability will benefit the joint warfighter.

"The combat-ready F-35A is the latest fifth-generation fighter aircraft in the Air Force's inventory and provides our nation air dominance in any environment. The F-35A brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability, and adaptability to joint and combined operations, and is ready to deploy and strike well-defended targets anywhere on Earth," Goldfein said. "Today's declaration of IOC is an important milestone on the road to achieving full warfighting capability for the F-35A.”

Successful June Deployment

The 34th Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the service’s first operational F-35A squadron, having met all the established criteria for initial operational capability including a successful June deployment to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, and a series of eight-aircraft sorties held in mid-July. Members of the 34th FS will fly and maintain the F-35A alongside Air Force Reservists from Hill’s 419th Fighter Wing.

"Our airmen have worked tirelessly to make sure our aircraft are combat ready: meeting challenges head-on and completing all the required milestones," said Air Force Col. David Lyons, the 388th Fighter Wing’s commander. "We're very proud that the Air Force has declared us combat ready and we're prepared to take this aircraft wherever it's needed in support of our national defense."

Those sentiments were echoed by Air Force Col. David Smith, the 419th Fighter Wing’s commander.

“It's an honor to fly and maintain the F-35 with our active-duty counterparts here at Hill,” Smith said. “Our units were the first to fly combat-ready F-16s nearly 40 years ago, and we're very proud to have made history once again in bringing the Air Force's newest fighter jet to IOC.”

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Statement by Secretary Carter on Air Force F-35A Achieving IOC

I want to congratulate the U.S. Air Force on today's announcement that the F-35A has achieved initial operational capability. This is a significant milestone for an aircraft that will allow the U.S. to maintain the advantage of air superiority for years to come. I know that even after being declared combat ready, there is more work to do with this critical program, but the Air Force, Air Combat Command and the men and women of Hill Air Force Base should be proud of this major step forward for the F-35A.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shed No Tears - Honor The Fallen

Shed No Tears - Honor The Fallen

In what can only be described as an Irish Wake, I was invited to observe patriots celebrate the life of one of their ranks who, tragically, had fallen. Some of the finest men on the planet gathered that day. The best of the best! The most elite! Not because of money or power but because they possess something in short supply in the world right now - integrity - character.

It began with an admonition that this wasn't the place for tears, sadness, or remorse. There would be memorials and a funeral where all could openly weep over our fallen brother's loss - his sacrifice for America. At these very words I felt a lump in my throat as I held back the tears. I choked tears back because I felt, deep in my soul, I was standing in the midst of giants. They bare the entire country on their shoulders. This next couple of hours was a sacred time for heroes gathered to reminisce about a life lived at twice the speed of sound: a life capable of attaining 65,000-foot elevation, and of turning on a dime; every maneuver to protect our country!

Everybody there was invited to drink our patriot's drink of choice - Red Bull and vodka or to smoke a cigarette from a pack of Marlboro Reds that was sitting on the bar. All grabbed their glass and mixed their version - some didn't mix at all. But all raised those glasses high to say goodbye to an old friend. After the toast the first story had everyone roaring with laughter about the funny things pilots invent to stave off boredom when weather grounds them far away from home. Each story would remind someone of another story filled with laughter and valor and so it continued. Someone lit up a Marlboro Red took a puff and passed the cigarette around. Even those who did not smoke took a puff to see their breath and to understand that their friend, battle buddy, and brother could breathe no more. They acknowledged that he was true to them and to his contract with all of America. He did it right! He may have lived his life at Mach 2 where things happen fast but his split second decisions likely led to his own death protecting others from being in harm's way.

He was an experienced pilot. He had altitude when he radioed that the plane wasn't responding. Why didn't he eject and save his own life? We know the answer. From the stories of those that knew him well, he crashed in a remote area because he put mission first - above himself. He could not eject knowing that he would live and endanger others. He could only punch-out once he knew that others would not be hurt. By then, unfortunately, it was too late.

I would feel the tears well up inside but in honor of the courage and bravery in the room I would choke them back. Finally, I could sense that I was not alone in holding back my tears. Nobody shed a tear that day because they had walled them up using laughter as the mortar, and stories of valor as the bricks. Were they just stories? I sensed that each man in that room would have done the same thing. They were the bricks of valor. The oceans of tears created that day are safely stowed away. When the laughter gives way to the memorials, the funeral, the crumbling mortar of that wall will create a tsunami wave of tears that will attempt to wash away the grief we all feel for this tremendous loss. The bricks of valor will quickly return to their duty shoring up the fortress - building upon our fallen hero's legacy as well as the legacy of all of those since the American Revolution that carved our nation out of the wilderness.

When we read the headlines of corrupt cops or slimy politicians or journalists that spin the truth, don't despair. Know that there are those still left in this fragile world that put mission above self: those with integrity and character: those that cannot be corrupted. Men and women who will protect you from all of the evil that is in this world. They signed a contract to put their lives on the line and that contract will not be broken - for any amount of money or under any circumstances even if it means blood is spilled a single drop at a time.

Honor the fallen! Honor the Constitution of the United States of America. We are only a nation because of the tradition where men and women put their service to us, to "we the people," above their own self interest. This is America's strength. We are in their debt. Be grateful for every drop of blood that has already been spilled and stands ready to be spilled to keep us safe - to keep us moving toward "the more perfect union."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Video: Memorial Service Honors Fallen Pilot

℠2014 - The 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes National Guard Base, Mass. remembers Lieutenant Colonel Morris Fontenot who died August 27 in a plane crash in Deerfield Valley, Virginia