Hill’s Helping Hand to Lightning’s IOC

The Air Force’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill AFB, Utah, is upgrading and modifying two of the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning IIs to help the service hit its F-35 initial operating capability target in July. “The F-35 program is tracking the way it needs to right now at this stage, and I don’t worry too much about IOC,” USMC aviation boss Lt. Gen. Jon Davis said at a roundtable in Washington, D.C., May 19. “If there’s one thing that I’d be worried about, it would be the modifications that need to be done … so the Air Force offered their facility at Hill,” Davis said. The two aircraft undergoing retrofit there will “be done ahead of schedule,” while the bulk of the fleet is processing through MCAS Cherry Point, N.C. Six F-35Bs flew to the USS Wasp this week to demonstrate that “they can do all the things that they say they can do,” including armed shipboard day and night operations ahead of IOC, he said. Though the F-35 “could have a very great capability” against ISIS immediately after IOC, Davis said he would prefer to “build some momentum” in training and maintenance before a combat debut.