It’s Official: Ogden ALC Site of Future F-35 Repair Work
The U.S. Air Force has formalized its decision designating the Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill Air Force Base as a key site for future repair work on the F-35 aircraft, according to a notification received by the office of Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) today.
The United States Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) informed Representative Bishop, whose district includes Hill AFB, that it has officially completed its Depot Source of Repair (DSOR) decisions for future maintenance of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. As generally expected, the Ogden Air Logistics Center (ALC) will be the site of major repair work for the Air Force's next generation of fighter.
"This formal Air Force decision, while not totally unexpected, is nevertheless very good news and another impressive step for the Ogden ALC," Congressman Bishop said. "This helps cement Ogden's role as the nation's premier fighter depot, and will have a big impact on future employment in northern Utah. The development is particularly important for future workloads as the F-16 aircraft is eventually phased-out and the new F-22 and F-35 weapons systems come on-line."
The AFMC decision designated the Ogden ALC as a primary source of depot maintenance and repair on F-35 airframes, associated doors, panels, covers, and control surfaces. According to the decision announcement, engine repairs and overhaul for the F-35 will be conducted in Oklahoma City, where engine work is currently handled for other Air Force aircraft. In an interesting connection noted by many, Hill AFB was previously designated by the Air Force as the location for the first operational wing of F-35's once they are built.
"The fact that we're going to have the 388th Fighter Wing with F-35s and have the depot maintenance operation for F-35s here at Hill too gives us some real opportunities," Congressman Bishop said. "Since the F-35 is also being built with the cooperation of many of our partners, it's pretty likely that Ogden will provide worldwide support and expertise in keeping the F-35s in the air for decades to come."
But, according to Representative Bishop who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, all of the news surrounding the F-35 isn't necessarily good. The biggest challenge right now, he says, is just getting the F-35 actually built in sufficient numbers to begin fielding the aircraft. "We've put off seriously building this airplane for way too long, and Congress has refused to fund production of enough to meet our needs," the northern Utah lawmaker noted. "As a nation, we fell behind the aircraft modernization curve in an alarming way by decisions that were made starting in the 1990s under the Clinton Administration. We could have had F-35s flying by now, if we had stuck to the right modernization road-map. It's time to really step things up in terms of timeline and production."
Mr. Bishop, who has long pushed for increased defense spending overall, added: "With each passing month, our current fighters – which are flying combat missions around the world - are getting older and we have nothing yet available to replace them. I believe that Congress and the next Administration need to significantly invest in the F-35 program so that we can begin to accelerate fielding of this remarkable weapons system in more realistic production rates. If we do, it will allow the United States to retain its air superiority for many years to come. Either way, though, I'm glad Utah and Hill are going to play such a key part in that important effort."