FRC East preparing for summer arrival of first F-35


Lt. Col. Fred Schenk lifts an F-35B Lightning II off the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in this Navy file photo. Cherry Point is expected to see the arrival of an F-35B in July when workers at Fleet Readiness Center East begin work on the new jet.

U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Andrew Rivard
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 05:25 PM.

A new era in Marine Corps aviation is taking place with training flights of the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter.

That new era is expected to land at Cherry Point in July when the air station is scheduled to welcome its first F-35B.

Mary Beth Fennell, integrated product team director at Fleet Readiness Center East, told members of the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group that the repair and maintenance facility is expecting its first F-35B in July.

But there is still work to do before the facility’s mechanics and engineers will get to work doing modifications to the new aircraft.

FRC East is beginning modifications to current facilities to support the F-35, the largest program in Department of Defense history. The tools, stands and other support equipment are F-35 specific and not common with any of the other aircraft being refurbished at FRC East, Fennell said.

By June, facility modifications should be complete and a new Autonomic Logistics Information System should be operational. Dave Marriott, public affairs specialist at FRC East, said that system would allow FRC East workers to order and track components of the jet while integrating operations, maintenance and technical data.

Some FRC East employees have already been working on F-35Bs, just not at Cherry Point. Marriott said a two-person team has been sent to Yuma, Ariz., twice for work on modifications to the new jet’s air inlet door.

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