F-35: Luke maintainers integrate with Lockheed Martin

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Air Force photograph by Senior Airman James Hensley

Chad Thomson, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit Lockheed Martin crew chief, stands by to marshal an F-35 Lightning II Jan. 24, 2017, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The 62nd AMU is in the process of integrating Airmen into its maintenance operations.

Airmen from the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., integrated with the Lockheed Martin maintainers to begin performing maintenance for the F-35 Lightning II beginning in Jan., eventually with the goal of taking over the U.S. F-35 maintenance for the unit.

 “We can’t afford to have any dip in pilot training so we need to make the integration and transition as seamless as possible,” said Capt. Lauren Chaffee, 62nd AMU officer in charge. “Eventually every F-35 AMU here at Luke will mirror what we’re going to be.”

Lockheed Martin currently has the contract to provide maintenance for all 62nd AMU F-35 Lightning II aircraft, but starting in June the U.S. Air Force will take on the responsibility for the U.S. fighters, while Lockheed Martin will continue to maintain partner country F-35’s.

“This lays the foundation for the future of Luke as far as how we’re going to do maintenance,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Hopper, 62nd AMU F-35 tactical aircraft maintenance specialist.

Chad Thomson, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit Lockheed Martin crew chief, stands by to marshal an F-35 Lightning II Jan. 24, 2017, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The 62nd AMU is in the process of integrating Airmen into its maintenance operations.

The new integration will also require some changes in manning.

“We have over 100 Airmen who are going to be coming over to the 62nd AMU,” Chaffee said. “We’ve had to increase manning in the 61st AMU in order to transition those individuals over to the 62nd AMU without impacting operations to the 61st. Meanwhile, the 63rd AMU is going to open later this year.”

The influx of Airmen to the AMUs will help spread manning across different units allowing more diversity at Luke.

“This transition will be a learning experience and will set the standard for how we do business,” Hopper said. “Looking at it from a maintainer’s perspective, this is a unique chance for both Air Force and Lockheed Martin maintainers to learn from one another.”

This learning environment will create comradery between organizations and help build the future of airpower.

“This unit can only be truly successful with the solid relationships built amongst all organizations,” Chaffee said. “Everyone who is already in the 62nd AMU is welcoming everyone wearing a U.S. Air Force uniform with open arms, and that is critical to the long term success of this unit.”
 

Staff Sgt. Emiliano Canales, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, marshals an F-35 Lightning II after landing Jan. 24, 2017, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. The 62nd AMU is integrating Airmen from the 61st AMU with Lockheed Martin maintenance personnel.