Cheryl Lobo Gives F135 IOC Celebration Speech at Oklahoma City Heavy Maintenance Center

EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Thursday, September 24, 2015

Cheryl Lobo, F135 program director, gave a speech at the Oklahoma City Heavy Maintenance Center, Tuesday, September 1, to celebrate Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the Marine Corps F-35B. The full text of her speech appears below.

Remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you and good morning everyone. I'm honored to be here with you today. So many people here worked tirelessly to ensure the Marines were ready to declare Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the F-35B Lightning II, and that's an accomplishment worthy of recognition.

Two years ago, the U.S. Marine Corps set an ambitious objective to achieve IOC for the F-35B Lightning II in July of 2015. That goal became the rallying point for the F135 propulsion team and the entire F-35 enterprise.

For the propulsion team, specifically, that goal meant we needed to have a strong foundation in place to provide for the maintenance and sustainment needs for the F135 engine.

Fortunately, Pratt & Whitney has a longstanding partnership here at Tinker, and a strong foundation to build upon in supporting the F135 engine program.

We've been here for more than 50 years, going all the way back to 1956 when we started working on the J75 and J57 engine programs, and the partnership we've built on since then has been incredible.

We have been working side by side with our Air Force teammates here to provide for the maintenance, repair, overhaul, and upgrades for the F117 engine, which powers the workhorse C-17 mobility aircraft, and the F119, which powers the revolutionary F-22 Raptor.

So, when we celebrated the official opening and ribbon cutting for the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center here at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex – which was only last December, by the way – we knew that together we would be up to the task.

Since 2012, we have worked through important tech data validation, verification, and tool qualifications, while adding unscheduled fan maintenance, fan module upgrades, and test cell capability. The T-9 test cell is fully operational, and plans are in place for additional tests cells as the program grows.

From June 2014 to July 2015, the team here retrofitted, tested, and delivered 10 Marine Corps engines in order to meet the IOC goal. Even with five to ten retrofits per engine, the team ensured the Marines would be ready to go. And on top of completing these retrofits, together we also completed four different teardown and buildups of the 3BSM for the propulsion system.

This partnership truly set the pace for full depot capability, and as depots are established in Europe and Asia, I believe the partnership for the F135 HMC here in Oklahoma City will provide the model for how to do sustainment the right way for the global F-35 program.

Thanks to your commitment and the unyielding dedication and leadership of the Marines, the Corps now operates an aircraft with the most advanced combat capability in the world.

The flexibility of the short takeoff and vertical lift F135 propulsion system allows the Marines to base operations from even the most austere of environments, enabling a revolutionary capability for the integrated Marine Air Ground Task Force to carry out their vital mission – anytime, anywhere.

Pratt & Whitney congratulates the U.S. Marine Corps on achieving IOC for the F-35B Lightning II, and we are proud to support the Joint Program Office and Marines on their journey to this historic accomplishment. We're also extremely proud of our longstanding partnerships here in Oklahoma City, and we're looking forward working together with you on this journey in the many years ahead.

Thank you.