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Navy air engineer at heart of F-35 programme in USA

Lt Cdr Stuart Greenfield
Helping to ensure jets flying from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth have all the support and equipment they need is Lieutenant Commander Stuart Greenfield – from an office near the Pentagon.

The Royal Navy air engineer is one Briton on the US-led headquarters which oversees the entire F-35 Lightning programme – hundreds of aircraft, three different variants, operated or ordered by more than a dozen nations.

Since February 2019 he’s been assigned to the Assistant Programme Manager of Logistics in the F-35’s Joint Programme Office in Crystal City, Washington DC – a stone’s throw from the Pentagon.

There’s a logistics team dedicated to each of the three variants of the strike fighter: the A model (conventional land-based), the C (for conventional US ‘cats and traps’ aircraft carriers), and the B operated by the UK, US Marine Corps, Italy and Japan among others.

It’s their job to be the crucial link between front-line units and the F-35 Programme Office which oversees the entire stealth fighter project, ensuring the former get what they want from the latter.

Stuart arrived in Washington after several years with the Commando Helicopter Force, a period as an engineering instructor and working in the world of Lightning on both sides of the Pond from the F-35 test and evaluation unit at Edwards Air Force Base in California to helping to establish the engineering team behind 617 Squadron, the UK’s first operational unit.

“I worked on F-35 squadrons for two years before the Joint Programme Office, so I knew F-35s,” says Stuart. “I didn't know acquisition – I didn't understand the US way of doing acquisition or how a US programme office worked, but my US teammates were there for me and were very helpful with getting me acclimatised.

“I was the only one on our team who had experience on an F-35 squadron and had maintained the air system. It tied in with the fact that everyone has a unique skill that elevates the quality of your team here."

To see the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force operating on HMS Queen Elizabeth is very exciting. And to do it with US Marines is a testament to the strong relationship between our two countries.

Lt Cdr Stuart Greenfield

He also enjoys the multi-national flavour of the Lightning project.

"While we all have the same end goal, we have slightly different ways of achieving it due to our cultures and the different core values found in our militaries, but that is what works well for the F-35," he adds.

His only regret is that he’s in Washington and not aboard Queen Elizabeth seeing the fruits of his team’s efforts with British F-35Bs operating side-by-side with those from the US Marine Corps.

"The milestone deployment is great!” Stuart adds. “To see the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force operating on HMS Queen Elizabeth is very exciting. And to do it with US Marines is a testament to the strong relationship between our two countries.

"We trained with the Marines at Beaufort, and to now be deployed at sea with them is fantastic. It shows the great benefits of this programme and the interoperability of the F-35. I'm jealous of anyone who gets to sail with the Queen Elizabeth for the next couple of months."

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