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F-35 Demo Team meets F135 Engine Team

  • Published
  • By Paul Shirk
  • 72nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Members of the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team visited Tinker Air Force Base to meet and thank the men and women of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex Heavy Maintenance Center for their work on the F135 engine that powers their aircraft.

The May 25, 2021, visit featured an F-35 aerial demonstration and static display, allowing the maintainers to personally see the aircraft up close and their engine in action; a first for many HMC employees.

“The commander of Air Combat Command [Gen. Mark Kelly] said he wanted to do something to motivate the forces that are powering the F-35,” said Brig. Gen. Jeff King, Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex commander. “This demonstration was all about them and the work they do for the United States and our warfighters.”

ACC directed the demo team visit to Tinker AFB as a show of appreciation for the men and women who perform depot-level maintenance on the F-35’s engine (the Pratt & Whitney F135) and related components.

The visit began with a familiarization briefing and a tour of the engine production line. The demo team ground crew was excited to meet the depot maintainers, and used the opportunity to discuss maintenance techniques. News that new, more advanced, borescopes, a flexible camera used to inspect internal engine components, would soon be headed to the field was well received.

Approximately 300 people gathered outside Bldg. 3001 in the afternoon to watch the Hill AFB, Utah-based F-35 perform aerobatic maneuvers that demonstrated its abilities as a 5th-generation fighter. Prior to the demonstration, maintainers and enterprise partners were able to get up close and explore a static display aircraft.

“This is exciting, this was the first time I’ve seen an F-35 up close,” said Troy Petty, a 544th Propulsion Maintenance Squadron senior inspector, who earlier in the day demonstrated the new borescope technology.

Petty also spoke about the importance of the demo for his team, noting that some of the members of his shop have never been close to an F-35.

The demonstration flight was initially delayed by weather but conditions allowed for a lower altitude, faster demonstration. This gave viewers on the ground better views of the jet, accentuated by vapor cones, visible clouds of condensed water created by aircraft flying through moist air at high speeds.

The F-35 completed high speed passes and tight turns, wowing the crowd. The slow speed pass, completed at 100 knots or 115 mph, demonstrated how slowly the F-35 can maintain level flight at a high angle of attack without stalling, due in large part to the powerful F135 engine.

After the demonstration, F-35 Demo pilot Maj. Kristin “Beo” Wolfe and the rest of the demo team met with the maintainers, thanking them for their work sustaining the engines that keep their aircraft flying.

“I just want to say thank you from all of us in the F-35 community,” Wolfe said. “We would not be combat ready without all the hard work of the F135 engine team.”

The OC-ALC HMC is the primary repair depot for the F135 engine, performing all aspects of engine maintenance. It supports all F-35 engine variants, including models operated by Navy and Marine Corps units, as well as those of partner nations.