U.S. Marine Corps General Visits Pratt & Whitney, Says F-35 is Essential
Lt. Gen. John Paxton, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command, and commanding general, Fleet Marine Force Atlantic, gave a moving talk and "thank you" to Pratt & Whitney employees at a Military Engines all hands meeting this week. He spoke after visiting the Pratt & Whitney Middletown, Conn., Engine Center to meet and show his appreciation to the employees who build engines for the Marine Corps and other armed services.
Lt. Gen. Paxton's speech at the all hands highlighted the master plan in Marine Corps Aviation. He spoke specifically about the F-35 powered by Pratt & Whitney's F135 engine and the benefits the fighter will bring to the three branches of the armed forces. He also mentioned what the Marine Corps needs today to fulfill its mission on the battlefield.
"We still need reliable aircraft, best technology, best workmanship, best parts, best sustainment and best customer service that we can take into austere environments to be most ready when our nation is least ready," said Paxton, after talking about the long history Pratt & Whitney and its peer companies have in supporting the military. "Because of your long history of delivering quality products and services, we are comfortable in turning to historical business partners such as Pratt & Whitney."
Lt. Gen. Paxton said the Marine Corps has banked on the technology, workmanship, sustainability and relationships with Lockheed Martin and Pratt & Whitney on the F-35 and F135.
"We believe in the fighter, the engine and technology," he said. "We believe in this [fighter] so much that we have worked closely with our civilian leadership to convince them the F-35 is the right aircraft because it has a new generation engine and new generation capabilities."
The F-35B, a short takeoff and vertical landing multi-role fighter, is slated to replace the Marine Corps' F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler. The F-35B's propulsion system, powered by Pratt & Whitney's F135 engine and the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem, allows the aircraft to operate from expeditionary airfields in remote, non-permissive environments with shorter runways, as well as amphibious vessels, contributing to the Marine Corps' role as the nation's expeditionary force-in-readiness.
After noting the prospect of the F-35 and its vertical landing capability, Lt. Gen. Paxton thanked employees for their commitment to Pratt & Whitney and for their diligence as designers, engineers, mechanics, assemblers, staff and support and for their part in contributing to the F135 and other engines and technologies.
"I want to reassure you the things you are doing here are known and appreciated inside the Marine Corps and indeed are the harbinger of great things to come for our nation and our nation's defense capabilities," he said.
To conclude his remarks, Lt. Gen. Paxton mentioned the C-17 Globemaster III, powered by Pratt & Whitney's F117 engine, and how the aircraft has performed a vital role in aeromedical evacuation, helping to save the lives of many service members injured in combat.
"Not only are you building the engine to help us succeed in battle, but you are also manufacturing the engines to help get our wounded troops back home," Paxton said. "Thank you for who you are and what you do."
Lt. Gen. Paxton's visit came on the heels of a historic ceremony held only a week prior at Marine Corps Air Station, Yuma, for the official stand-up and re-designation of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the world's first operational squadron to fly the F-35B Lightning II aircraft. Representatives from Pratt & Whitney attended the event and were able to commemorate the occasion by presenting to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Amos, the Keith Ferris painting "High Tide at Red Beach," which depicts the F-35B flying over the skies of Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Please click below to view several video clips from the meeting: