Edwards Airmen begin F-35 operational testing
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The F-35 Lightning II program entered a new phase of testing with the arrival of the first two operational test aircraft March 6.
Team members from the 53rd Wing’s 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, a tenant unit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., will determine how to best tactically operate the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variant of the fifth-generation fighter. Another 53rd Wing squadron, the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis also received F-35As and will take part in the operational test process of the new aircraft.
“As part of the Joint Operational Test Team, we take the aircraft hardware and software released from developmental test, our training from the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin (AFB, Fla.), the administrative and logistics support we get from the Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin, and we integrate all of these disparate elements with maintenance practices, tactics, techniques and procedures required to create an incredibly lethal weapon system that can go out and win the nation’s wars,” said Lt. Col. Steven Tittel, the 31st TES commander.
“We’ve got a brand new tool with a whole new set of capabilities that has never been used by the combat air forces. We have to take that tool and find out the best way to utilize it, to go out and defeat an enemy on the battlefield,” he said.
Maj. Joseph Scholtz is an operational test pilot integrated into the active-duty Air Force’s 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron, and currently Nellis AFB’s only qualified F-35 pilot.
Staff members at Craig Joint Theater Hospital on Bagram Airfield trained more than 40 Afghan doctors and nurses as part of the Afghan Trauma Mentorship Program. The goal of the program is to train Afghan health care providers to operate using the latest technology and methods to provide the best health care possible for their countrymen.
The Silver Flag exercise site hosted 31 Royal Canadian Air Force construction engineers from the 19th Wing, Construction Engineering Flight, Canadian Forces Base Comox, British Columbia. The Canadians trained side-by-side with U.S. Airmen during a week-long training exercise designed to help prepare them to establish, sustain and recover an airfield in a contingency environment.
B-52 Stratofortresses based at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, flew a mission over South Korea on March 8 as part of Exercise Foal Eagle. George Little, Pentagon Press Secretary, described the mission as “a stepped-up training effort” to demonstrate American resolve to protect South Korea and to preserve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.