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.


 
 

 
DT_JTC0216

Supreme allied commander comes home

Gen. Philip Breedlove, left, NATO supreme allied commander, Europe, visited Luke Air Force Base Sept. 12. Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, right, 56th Fighter Wing commander, briefed the general on Luke’s evolving mission to train F-3...
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

Command post chief averts potential disaster

Senior Airman Grace Lee Capt. George Normandin, 56th Fighter Wing Command Post chief, received the Aviation Safety Well Done Award Sept. 2, presented by Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, 56th FW commander. Normandin took control of an F-...
 
 

You are what you eat

“You are what you eat.” This is a generic statement or a notion. It implies that if you eat healthy, you will be healthy. But how true is this in the world today? What we eat, drink, wear, drive and buy is often an attempt to construct a social identity. It lets others know who...
 

 

Knowledge equals power

The phrase “knowledge is power” is said to originate from Sir Francis Bacon in 1597. Personally, I remember learning the phrase from the old television show “School House Rock” theme song. The key idea behind the phrase is the more knowledge you accumulate, the more “power” you will have. Here is a simple breakdown: knowledge...
 
 
Senior Airman
MARCY COPELAND

EOD Airman changed for good by life experiences

Senior AirmanMARCY COPELAND Tech. Sgt. David Gerig’s, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team chief, first assignment after technical school was Kadena Air Base, Japan. The challenges in life are often w...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

CFC kick-off The 56th Fighter Wing Combined Federal Campaign kick-off charity fair is 9 a.m. Monday in Bldg. 1130 auditorium. Learn about the 2014 campaign ‘Serving Our Country. Supporting Our Community.’ and visit with local charities. For more information, call Maj. Jennifer Preyer-Bonton at 623-856-7144. Hispanic Heritage Month National Hispanic Heritage Month began Monday and...
 




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