The Green Mountain Boys are taking the final steps to transition from F-16s to F-35s.
Col. David Smith, commander of the 158th Fighter Wing, says support equipment has arrived and the process of distributing it across the wing has begun.
“We’re actually opening the equipment and inspecting it,” he said.
Over the next two weeks, airmen will uncrate nearly 900 items that support the maintenance of the F-35.
“Anything the maintainers will need to get the aircraft off the ground has been arriving in large crates and boxes,” said Sgt. Matt Gagnon, supervisor in the Logistics Readiness unit.
Experts from multiple agencies are working closely with the wing team, testing equipment and teaching the guard about how each part functions. Guardsmen say it’s important to keep inventory of everything so they’re organized for future missions.
“Verifying stock numbers, serial numbers, making sure parts are where they’re supposed to be, and the nomenclatures match up,” Gagnon said.
In September, the Vermont Air National Guard will be home to its first two F-35 jets. The base is expecting to eventually have 20 of them — 18 active jets and 2 backup planes. Maintenance workers and pilots have undergone more than 3 years of training to prepare for the jets. Altogether, the guard said 30 pilots will be trained to fly them.
“I’m really proud of the team, frankly, for all the work that’s gone into it,” Smith said. “We’re here, and it’s happening.”