Lockheed, U.S. Military Establish F-35 Public-Private Partnership

Credit: USAF

Fleet Readiness Center East is now certified to repair and test 14 F-35 components as part of a new public-private partnership with Lockheed Martin.

FRCE is the lead site for depot-level maintenance on the F-35B short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing variant. Since 2013, the depot has conducted modification and repair for all three F-35 variants. FRCE provides engineering and logistics support for naval aviation, the other services, federal agencies and foreign governments. 

“This is a new workload coming in for Fleet Readiness Center East,” Steve Gurley, F-35 capability establishment at FRCE, said in a June 15 statement. “We inducted our first F-35 valve in February, into our valves and regulators shop. That valve is the first of 14 components that we’ve declared capability on.”

Components of FRCE will work on span from valves, to ejection seats, to a turbomachine that provides power to start the jet’s engine. The depot has declared capability in repairing and testing 14 components and anticipates that list growing to more than 105 components for the F-35. This new work positions FRCE to have a scheduled workload through 2024, Gurley said.

Each new component declaration requires an in-depth analysis of current workload, future workload, facilities and required skill sets.

“Our team consists of logisticians, industrial engineering technicians, engineers, facilities, program managers and the business office,” Gurley said.

When FRCE establishes a new capability, the goal is to begin operation at full capacity and work through any unexpected obstacles.

“We don’t want to induct a component for repair and then have it go right into a delay status for material, or something that we have control over,” Gurley said. 

The plan is for FRCE to go from 14 F-35 components to 57 through November 2021. Some of the components are on the fleet’s top degrader list, meaning when FRCE can repair and test those components it should help support F-35 readiness rates.