Building the F35C

Following Up With Armando Martinez, Lockheed Martin

Armando Martinez was recently the completion supervisor for the BF-4 or the 4th F35-B; he is now the completion supervisor for the first build of the F35-C, or the naval version of the F-35.

Credit: Lockheed Martin, Fort Worth,  Texas, September 15th,  2010


10/09/2010 –SLD: When we last talked, you were working on the F-35B.  You are now working on the F35-C, the first of the carrier-based F-35s.  Could you talk to me about the experience level of your flight line team?

Armando Martinez: My crew ranges anywhere from 24 years experience all the way to 30 years experience on combat aircraft. So I have a lot of experience, especially when it comes to working on the F-16s.  Of course, with the new JSF, the average experience on the aircraft is three to four years.  Maintenance wise, unless they come from the plant, which is an assembly line, but we’re flight lining, they’re more specialized, and their experience is working just about everything.  They’re not just structured, they’re just not engine hydraulics, or electrical.  They work fuel, they work every system, and they have to when it comes to the flight line. So, being in the flight line, we’re in a unique area where we have to finish the build, and then get the final product to the customer, and make sure we bring back a pilot safe and happy.

SLD: As you were explaining, a couple of major differences working on the C versus the B or the A are the nature of the wings and obviously, the strength of the undercarriage for landing a carrier.

Armando Martinez: One difference is the size of the aircraft; the size of the aircraft is immense compared to the other models.  And of course, you’ve got the wings, they fold in or like I said, they fold up.  That’s to make sure they can get up into the aircraft area for maintenance when it’s inside the aircraft carrier itself.  Another difference are the main landing gear.  The landing gear are immense.  Size, you know, conditions the strength to hold that weight because they got to get on the aircraft carrier. They have to be strong to handle the continuous pounding and flying to perform the Navy’s mission. Basically everything else is the same, the seats are the same.  The actuators are the same, besides the wing fold.  So these are some of the similarities.

One difference is the size of the aircraft; the size of the aircraft is immense compared to the other models.  And of course, you’ve got the wings, they fold in or like I said, they fold up.  That’s to make sure they can get up into the aircraft area for maintenance when it’s inside the aircraft carrier itself.  Another difference are the main landing gear.  The landing gear are immense.

SLD: An additional difference is that unlike the AF or USMC version, this initial Navy aircraft is being build fully missionized, isen’t correct?

Armando Martinez: Yes, the first aircraft that’s scheduled to hit the aircraft carrier is fully instrumented and missionized.  One of the objectives is to be in a position to record just about all kinds of information, from the weather at sea to performance of  the aircraft. They want to record all that information, plus the performance of the mission systems for the software they’re loading on the aircraft.

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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