As part of a plan to prepare the 33rd Fighter Wing for the arrival of the F-35, Luke Air Force Base sent some assets to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., in January 2011.
Now, a year-and-a-half later, the 56th Maintenance Group continues to support that mission.
â€œA rotation of four F-16 Fighting Falcons and about 40 maintainers from Luke will continue to provide fighter support aircraft through March 2013,â€ said Capt. Ryan Hudson, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit deployed officer-in-charge. â€œThe maintainers are providing safe reliable aircraft which ensures the success of standing up F-35 operations at the integrated training center at Eglin.â€
One aspect of Lukeâ€™s mission at Eglin is to support just-in-time training for the initial F-35 cadre, Hudson said.
â€œJust-in-time training allows pilots to qualify and maintain proficiency in a fighter aircraft before and during their transition to the F-35,â€ he said. â€œThis support is vital for the maturity of the F-35 program. At the same time, it also increases pilot production.â€
The 56th MXG is providing outstanding support to the Defense Departmentâ€™s first operational F-35 location, according to Lt. Col. Michael Miles, 33rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.
â€œSorties generated for Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircrews are ensuring proficiency and airworthiness prior to each pilotâ€™s first F-35 flight,â€ he said. â€œAdditionally, the F-16s from Luke perform critical flight safety chase aircraft duties locally and for ferry flights from the Lockheed Martin factory in Fort Worth, Texas.â€
More than 360 Luke Airman have supported this mission so far on 60-to-90 day rotations.
â€œTeam Luke has exceeded all expectations in providing support to the 33rd FW,â€ Miles said. â€œThey have advanced the entire F-35 program.â€