Rear Adm. Roy “Trigger” Kelley was appointed to the new position of director of Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration, a role that will unify the Navy’s efforts to bring the F-35C carrier-variant Joint Strike Fighter into the fleet.
Kelley, as head of the Department of the Navy’s Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration Office (FIO), will coordinate with the F-35 Joint Program Office, the Naval Aviation Enterprise, the Marine Corps and Air Force, partner nations and industry as the program moves towards initial operational capability (IOC), according to a Navy statement.
“The fifth-generation Navy variant stealth fighter, F-35C Lightning II, will bring tremendous capability to the Carrier Strike Group’s integrated warfighting package with stealth advantages that allow it to penetrate threat envelopes and deliver payloads, the ability to detect and fuse information from many sources, and link that fused picture to other CSG aircraft, ships and decision-makers,” Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander of Naval Aviation Forces (CNAF), said in a Navy statement.
“”Under Rear Adm. Kelley’s leadership, the FIO will be instrumental in ensuring that these technologies are seamlessly integrated as we prepare for IOC in 2018.”
Kelley will direct efforts related to only the carrier variant – but since the Marine Corps will also purchase some F-35Cs, the FIO will oversee the Marines’ F-35C fleet integration as well.
CNAF spokeswoman Cmdr. Jeannie Groeneveld told USNI News that the FIO will be able to focus on F-35C in a way that no other organization can. The Joint Program Office must oversee all three JSF variants, coordinate with all partner countries, and manage all stages of life from design to operations. CNAF oversees all air systems in the entire Navy, as well as aircraft carrier operations. With such a narrow focus, the FIO will be able to work with the operational community, the program office, the resource sponsor (the Navy’s air warfare directorate, OPNAV N98) and others to ensure the service reaches IOC in 2018 and subsequent fielding goes smoothly.
Kelley is a 1984 graduate of Southeastern Oklahoma State University and was designated a naval aviator in 1986, flying F-14s early in his career. In his first command tour, commanding VF-102 Diamondbacks aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in 2001, the squadron earned several awards and conducted a record-setting 645 bombs dropped in 3,346 combat hours at the start of Operating Enduring Freedom.
He served as chief of naval air training from 2013 to 2015 and currently commands Carrier Strike Group 12 aboard Theodore Roosevelt.