Marines Gain Critical Hands-On Experience Swapping F-35B LiftFan at Sea

(U.S. Navy photo by Kyle P. Hafer)


By MC1 Benjamin Wooddy

U.S. Marines successfully removed and replaced an F-35B Lightning II LiftFan for the first time at sea aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) during the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing (STOVL) variant’s third and final shipboard developmental test phase in November.

The F-35 Lightning II Patuxent River Integrated Test Force from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 and personnel from Lockheed Martin observed as the Marine Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 1 Marines tested the LiftFan removal and replacement process. Prior to embarking America, the VMX-1 maintainers leveraged their experience in legacy AV-8B Harrier and F/A-18 Hornet squadrons while learning and testing land-based F-35B maintenance procedures.

As they conducted the first LiftFan swap at sea, the Marines accounted for and tracked each step of the process by entering the individual maintenance steps into ALIS, the Autonomic Logistic Information System, which equips personnel with the ability to plan ahead, maintain and sustain F-35 subsystems over the life of the aircraft.

Testing the ability to swap entire engines, engine components and LiftFans at sea proved the shipboard maintenance construct and provided critical hands-on experience dealing with the confined space and deck motion aboard ship—vital elements that cannot be replicated ashore.

Their testing also refined and improved the procedures, ensuring efficiency of future training and maintenance actions by fleet maintainers.

Mass Communication Petty Officer 1st Class Benjamin Wooddy is a member of USS America’s Public Affairs team.