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    F-35 Dual Capable Aircraft Team Meets Goals Ahead of Schedule, Earns Prestigious Award

    F-35 Dual Capable Aircraft Team Meets Goals Ahead of Schedule, Earns Prestigious Award

    Photo By Chief Petty Officer America Wingo | CRYSTAL CITY, VA. (Feb. 16, 2022) – Members of the F-35 Dual Capable Aircraft Team...... read more read more



    Story by F-35 Joint Program Office Public Affairs 

    F-35 Joint Program Office

    ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 17, 2022 – While the world faced global pandemic in 2020, the F-35 Dual Capable Aircraft (DCA) Team worked tirelessly to complete a critical step toward nuclear certification of the Air Force’s F-35A variant. By the end of 2020, not only had the team completed a vital developmental test campaign, but they did so a full year ahead of original schedule.

    In recognition of these efforts, Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown chose the 26-person F-35 DCA Team as the recipient of the prestigious Order of Daedalians Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe Weapons System Award for 2020.

    February 16, five of the team’s representatives attended a small ceremony at the F-35 Joint Program Office headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Immediate Past Commander of the Order of the Daedalians Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Nicholas B. Kehoe presented the award—a bronze trophy—to F-35 Program Executive Officer Lt. Gen. Eric Fick, who in turn then presented the award to a handful of members of the F-35 DCA Team.

    “It gives me an extraordinarily large amount of pride to be able to participate in this event today,” said Fick, during brief remarks prior to the award’s presentation. “When our nation came to us and said, ‘I need you to go faster,’ the (DCA) team stood up, and you did (go faster).”

    The F-35 DCA Team comprises the F-35 Joint Program Office DCA Team which is the acquisition arm responsible for all program management and engineering oversight in developing DCA capability, and the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) at Edwards Air Force Base, California, which runs flight tests to collect data and evaluate those test points.

    F-35 DCA Team Materiel Leader Lt. Col. Jason W. Shirley; F-35 Deputy Program Manager for Nuclear Matters Charles E. (Chad) Lominac II; and former F-35 Capability Verification Mission Systems test lead Cassandra “Cassie” Allen represented the JPO DCA Team. Lead Engineer, Weapons Integration Dustin L. Malcolm; and Lt. Col. Christopher “SIN” Campbell, who serves as both the F-35 Edwards ITF director, as well as commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron (FLTS), represented the F-35 ITF.

    The award is presented annually to military or civilian individuals, groups or an organization determined to have contributed the most outstanding weapons system development which operates, in whole or in part, in the aerospace environment. Nominations are submitted by the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force, and the award is made on a rotating basis in that order.

    That the team completed the work a year early wasn’t by happenstance, but by design, said Shirley.

    “The Secretary of Defense committed to NATO that we would meet the F-35’s operational nuclear certification need date of January 2024,” said Shirley. “To meet this date, the JPO had to accelerate the planned design certification date by one year, to January 2023.”

    “I am immensely proud of the team for winning this recognition, but I am not at all surprised,” said Campbell, who assumed command of the Edwards ITF and 461st FLTS in June of 2021.

    During 2020, the F-35 DCA Team operated at Edwards Air Force Base, utilizing the ITF to collect 492 critical nuclear certification test points while executing nine ground and 19 flight tests. The team’s work culminated a three-year, 87-flight, 198-flight hour developmental test campaign one full year ahead of schedule, according to the award’s citation. Maintainers, engineers, instrumentation specialists, and aircrew at the ITF all contributed to the test program’s success, which provided data and demonstrations that ensure the safe carriage and separation of the B61-12 thermonuclear gravity bomb on the F-35A.

    Completing all necessary flight test a year ahead of schedule required a great deal of teamwork between teams composed of military service members, civil service employees, and prime contractors over long days that would often run upwards of 11 hours.

    “Without teamwork, we would have never been able to accelerate our schedule and overcome the COVID challenges that we faced as a team,” said Shirley. He added “alignment” would be his one-word choice as the biggest contributor to the F-35 DCA Team’s success in 2020.

    “Without having alignment with the nuclear stakeholders, we would have never been able to work together as a collective team to execute our accelerated developmental flight test campaign,” he said.

    The list of government stakeholders within the nuclear enterprise is extensive, and includes the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Headquarters Air Force, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Air Force Safety Center, major commands such as Air Combat Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe, as well as the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, Sandia National Labs, and Los Alamos National Labs. Key industry partners in the effort included F-35’s prime contractor, Lockheed Martin, as well as Boeing St. Charles.

    “Our relationship with each one of these organizations was vital to our accomplishments in 2020,” said Shirley. “It took years of coordination to help set us up for success. 2020 was a game changer in terms of the F-35 program proving itself capable of executing a complex weapon integration program in the face of adversity and under the spotlight of DoD leadership attention.”

    F-35 DCA is a trailblazer capability, with the B61-12 becoming the first weapon to complete integration and go into production during the modernization phase of the F-35 program.

    With the developmental test campaign complete, the F-35 DCA Team will work on receiving nuclear Design Certification of the B61-12 with the F-35A variant before January 2023. Attaining the certification will enable USAFE to start that command’s nuclear operational certification training, according to Shirley.

    Not all aircraft will become nuclear capable upon full certification in support of real-world operations. Only those units with a nuclear mission will be given the hardware and manpower necessary to configure and maintain nuclear capable F-35s.

    This is the second time in recent years that the F-35 Enterprise has been the recipient of the Order of Daedalians’ prestigious Colonel Franklin C. Wolfe Weapons Systems Award, with the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter Wing out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, California, having received the award in 2018.


    Date Taken: 02.17.2022
    Date Posted: 02.17.2022 11:24
    Story ID: 414834

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