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Military and civilians work on F35 program; military to be paid during shutdown
OKALOOSA -- Members of the military will be paid during the shutdown; the President signed a bill to make that happen last night.
Today at Eglin Air Force Base, the Navy moved ahead with its rollout of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Navy tradition was in the forefront, not a government shutdown, as a large crowd here at Eglin Air Force Base watched the rollout of this jet, the F35C or as it's affectionately known by the Navy squadron here, the Charlie.
The F35-C arrived at Eglin back in June, but the welcome ceremony was long planned for Tuesday morning. The commander of US Fleet Forces briefly referred to the shutdown during his remarks.
Admiral William Gortney says, "Some mornings you get up, and they're a little tougher to get up in the morning. This might have been one of them."
Still, the day is a milestone for the squadron known as the Grim Reapers. They're training to operate these jets from aircraft carriers, with no space or time to spare.
Commander Frederick Crecelius of VFA-101 says, "They've got about an hour and a half to get the airplane down, service it, refuel it, do whatever maintenance needs to be done, before the aircraft man up and they launch again. And then, wash, rinse, repeat, and that carrier cycle goes on for the better part of 12-14 hours."
Both military members and civilians work on the F35 program. The commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing says operations will continue, even though some of those civilians were sent home today.
Colonel Todd Canterbury of the 33rd Fighter Wing says, "The mission is too important, and the training is too vital to our nation, to stand down. There will be second and third order effects as we're losing some valuable members of our team to the government shutdown, but we're trying to mitigate those effects to the best of our ability."
The F35 program as a whole has now logged ten thousand flight hours. Here at Eglin, they just reached six thousand hours last week.