Moving Day for Marine Corps Squadron Assisted by P&W Engines, Employees
Moving day for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), Marine Aircraft Group 12, is a bit different than what most of us are used to.
We use a truck.
They use a fighter propelled by more than 40,000 pounds of Pratt & Whitney power.
"It's the first time that any fifth generation unit, fighter unit, has moved and been permanent based overseas," said Maj. Michael J. O'Brien, operations officer, VMFA-121.
This group is used to firsts. The squadron, known as the "Green Knights," was the first military unit to go initial operation capability or "I-O-C" with the F-35 in 2015. 121's newest first is the international relocation to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
"They seem to kind of pave the way for what's going on," said Samuel H. Smith, deputy director, Navy/Marine Corps Sustainment, F135, at Pratt & Whitney.
Smith said this critical step by the Marine Corps was aided by Pratt & Whitney field service representatives. Pratt & Whitney's team flew along with the squadron from Yuma, Arizona, to Elmendorf, Alaska. Then, the final leg was from Alaska to the base in Iwakuni, Japan.
"They are down there in the trenches, at the squadron level, helping these Marines determine any questions they have on how to swap out an engine or a module or anything else," Smith said.
On this trip there was no need for that. In fact, there is rarely need for that.
"They don't think twice about the reliability of their engine," Smith said. "They are absolutely convinced Pratt & Whitney provides them with a great product."
Prior to arriving in Iwakuni, VMFA-121 was stationed with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. During the squadron's time in Arizona, the aircraft successfully participated in numerous exercises and training events.
But the exercises have now moved to a new location. It was moving day. For most of us, a day we'd rather avoid. For the Marine Corps "Green Knights" – this has to be kind of fun.
"There's nothing better than being out there on the leading edges, in Asia, right there with Japan to be ready to do whatever we are called upon to do," O'Brien said.