DoD

May 24, 2013

F-35A instructor pilots qualify in aerial refueling

Tags:
Maj. Karen Roganov
Eglin AFB, Fla.

An F-35A Lightning II approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker during aerial refueling May 13, 2013, near Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The initial cadre of Air Force F-35 instructor pilots at the 33rd Fighter Wing recently qualified in aerial refueling for the joint strike fighter. The 33rd FW is responsible for F-35 A/B/C Lightning II pilot and maintainer training for the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Air Force and, in the future, at least eight coalition partners. The KC-135 is assigned to the 336th Air Refueling Squadron, March AFB, Calif.

The initial cadre of F-35A Lightning II instructor pilots qualified in aerial refueling last week, adding another capability for student pilot training at the 33rd Fighter Wing’s F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

“Eleven pilots had flown 14 refueling missions across the boom with the help of a KC-135 Stratotanker based here all last week,” said Col. Andrew Toth, the commander of the 33rd Fighter Squadron. “Prior to this, only test pilots had done so.”

The pilots discovered refueling the F-35 was an easy process, given the stability of the jet in flight and the preparation they received flying aerial refueling missions during ground school with the high-fidelity F-35 full-mission simulator.

Pilots have said there were times they forgot they were in a simulator, given its realistic feel amplified by a 360-degree view of the air and ground projected around the pilot.

“This was the easiest tanking event I’ve had in my career,” said Toth, who besides spearheading efforts for three branches of service and internationals here is also an F-35 instructor pilot. “The aircraft is very stable and smooth, making it easier to connect with the boom than I had experienced with flying other weapons systems.”

Toth said he foresees the new lieutenants, fresh out of initial pilot training, to have the same positive experience one day as well – But for now, the seasoned operators and maintainers are carrying the load.

Laying in a pod in the belly of the KC-135, the operator maneuvering the boom to offload gas to formations of fighters chimed in with the same observations about the Lightning II and the pilots’ performance.

“He basically parked the aircraft 50-feet behind us at 310 knots,” said SSgt. Joe Parker with the 336th Air Refueling Squadron at March Air Reserve Base, Calif.

Parker has refueled about 30 different aircraft, ranging from “F-16 (Fighting Falcon)s to C-5 (Galaxies) and everything in between,” in his almost 10-year career. This includes the F-35s performing test missions at Edward Air Force Base, Calif.

“The F-35 is like a breath of fresh air when they come up to refuel because I know they are going to be an incredibly stable platform in the air refueling envelope,” he said.

With the instructor pilots trained, the 58th Fighter Squadron has incorporated the aerial refueling capability into F-35A Student Pilot Class Number 4, which began training May 20, and is anticipated to be complete in approximately two months, Toth said.

Students execute the flying curriculum in the latter month. Those F-35A pilots who have graduated will get top-off training to fly aerial refueling at their unit – just like the test pilots who recently graduated from Eglin AFB and are assigned to Edwards AFB.

For the future, flying unit members here said they welcome the new capability because they can now train longer and in essence “knock out two training sorties,” Toth said.

“A formation can conduct air-to-air combat training, go to the tanker, get gas and conduct an air-to-air or air-to-ground training mission,” he said.

Pilots and other aircrew alike seem to be impressed with the expanded training events and the performance of the joint strike fighter.

“It’s always a privilege to work with any new airframe,” Parker said. “I am fortunate enough to also be a part of F-35 flying.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Pg-1-Standalone---140411-F-HT977-026

Weather: Exercise component

First responders prepare to transport a simulated injured patient during an extreme weather exercise April 11 at Luke Air Force Base. The exercise was designed to train and evaluate Luke Airmen on readiness and preparation for ...
 
 
Courtesy photo

Plane crash, coma doesn’t deter pilot

Courtesy photo Retired Capt. David Berling, 56th Contracting Squadron contract specialist, stands in front of his 1977 Cessna RG March 23, 2012, at the Glendale Airport. Berling lost his legs in a 2007 plane crash, the subject ...
 
 

Comprehensive support system helps unit resiliency

In today’s Air Force environment of force restructure, budgetary constraints, continued mission requirements and resiliency, establishing a comprehensive support system in a unit is absolutely essential for success. Each organizational tier, whether at the element, flight or squadron level, must be resilient and have support mechanisms in place to not only meet, but exceed daily...
 

 

Preparing for next rank makes successful Airmen

As Airmen we have many responsibilities and duties we must carry out in accordance with our jobs. According to AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, our responsibilities are as follows: junior enlisted Airmen initially focus on adapting to military requirements, achieving occupational proficiency and learning how to become highly productive members of the Air Force....
 
 
Senior Airman
JASON COLBERT

Energy office helps keep lights on

Senior AirmanJASON COLBERT Master Sgt. Adam Kelley, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron base energy manager, explains the value of low wattage light bulbs to Robert Wimp at the Energy Conservation Month booth April 9 at Luke Air Force...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2014

Change of command Lt. Col. Jon Wheeler relinquishes command of the 310th Fighter Squadron to Lt. Col. Matthew Warner at 8:31 a.m. today in Hangar 913. Days of Remembrance The 2014 Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust Victims is May 2 at Club Five Six. A Holocaust exhibit of masks of holocaust survivors and paintings...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin