Officials christened a new $20.6 million F-35A Lightning II maintenance facility in a ceremony at Nellis AFB, Nev., last week. The 68,000 square foot aircraft maintenance hangar is the first designed specifically for the F-35 and is capable of handling six aircraft at any one time, according to contractor Maintenance Design Group’s fact sheet. The air conditioned hangar features an integrated engine shop and overhead cranes to ease maintenance and increase work efficiency, according to a Nellis release. The 57th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit will support the Weapons School’s future compliment of 24 F-35As, and approximately 150 flight and ground personnel, the release states. Nellis is slated to receive a total of 36 F-35As, with the remaining 12 supporting operational flight testing. Nellis’ first F-35 touched down on base last March. Officials cut the ribbon on the Lightning AMU on March 18.
The Air Force isn’t giving up on its long-frustrated efforts to retire older aircraft, as the department’s leader continues to talk with lawmakers about plans to free up funds for its modernization efforts, Undersecretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones said Nov. 30.