Defense

July 27, 2012

F-35 maintenance training spawns USMC’s first air FTD

Tags:
by Dan Hawkins
Eglin AFB, Fla.

Students discuss a training problem during F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter training as SSgt. Jeff Kakaley, right, observes during training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jul. 19, 2012. The 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 19 at Eglin AFB, part of the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas trains both airmen and Marines on F-35 maintenance. Kakaley is an F-35 crew chief instructor.

It’s no surprise that the military operates in an increasingly joint environment today.

With the introduction of the Department of Defense’s newest fifth-generation fighter jet, the F-35 Lightening Bolt Joint Strike Fighter, the joint effort is at the forefront of the aircraft’s maintenance training and a central effort of the 372nd Training Squadron Field Training Detachment 19.

Although based in the Florida panhandle at Eglin Air Force Base, the detachment is part of Air Education and Training Command’s 82nd Training Wing, headquartered at Sheppard Air Force, Texas.

One of the unique features of the detachment is the stand up of the U.S. Marine Corps’ first-ever aircraft maintenance FTD by combining F-35 maintenance training operations with the Air Force and the Navy.

Utilizing the FTD will allow the Marines to train the initial core group of F-35 maintenance cadre to staff the creation of new F-35 maintenance squadrons throughout the Corps.

“We decided that the Air Force model for maintenance training was the right way to do business,” said Marine Capt. John Park, the 372nd TRS commander. “The Marine Corps, when we go to a platform, stay there for our whole careers … so this is new to us. Having Marines move to the F-35 from the F-18 Hornet or AV-8B Harrier is unheard of, so it’s a big change in our training process.”

SSgt. David Martindale gets ready to work on a training problem at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jul. 19, 2012. F-35 maintenance training is conducted by the 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 19, part of the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. Martindale is an F-35 maintenance student with the 31st Test and Evaluations Squadron.

With crew chief, egress and environmental, avionics and airframes training, the 372nd TRS ensures Air Force and Marine Corps trainees are fully-qualified to work on the DOD’s newest weapons system.

“We have 10 Marines as instructors,” Park said. “Right now, we are focused on training and transitioning experienced airmen and Marines to the F-35 from other airframes, getting the maintenance foundation set so they leave us to head to the field fully task-qualified.”

All the Marine instructors came to Eglin from the F-35 testing unit at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., where they gained three years experience on the jet. The Navy is currently scheduled to start its own maintenance program over the next few months, with 10 instructors set to join the detachment.

Classes at the FTD range in duration from 45 to 90 days, depending on the specialty. Although trainees are transitioning to the F-35 from other airframes, the long-term plan is to send Marines through the initial training pipeline to build up the overall military specialty manning numbers.

Being able to train in-residence at Eglin AFB, as opposed to out in the fleet in an on-the-job training environment, speeds up the Marines’ overall learning curve.

“We are trying to take a learning process that usually takes three to five years of on-the-job training in the Marines Corps and turn it into a 90-day or less class,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Chris Johnson, a power line (crew chief) instructor. “It’s incredible what we can do with the best people and training in the world.”

Students learn about F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter landing gear from Marine SSgt. Christopher Johnson, right, during training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Jul. 19, 2012. The Marine Corps is standing up their first-ever field training detachment with the 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 19 at Eglin AFB, part of the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

Maintaining one of the most advanced weapons systems the military has ever seen is a source of pride for the instructors.

“My dad calls me probably every day and asks about the F-35,” said Air Force SSgt. Jeff Kakaley, an F-35 crew chief instructor. “I tell him I’m proud to work on it and he’s proud to have a son who works on the F-35 too.”

“Being around this aircraft on a daily basis, both here and at Pax River has been awesome,” said Johnson. “There’s nothing I’d rather do.”

The 372nd TRS, part of the 982nd Training Group at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, has 28 detachments around the globe. The 982nd TRG conducts hands-on aircraft, munitions and communications-electronics training at 46 locations worldwide, including Europe, Alaska and the Pacific theater.




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


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr.

Navy’s first F-35C squadron surpasses 1,000 flight hours

Air Force photograph by Samuel King Jr. An F-35C Lightning II aircraft piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, flies the squadron’s first local sortie. The F-35C is the carrier va...
 
 

Salina, Kansas, recalls anniversary of shuttered base

It has been 50 years this month since the announcement that Schilling Air Force Base was closing rattled Salina residents. The Salina Journal, which carried news of the closure in its Nov. 19, 1964, editions, reported that the economic disaster then spared no part of the community – real estate, retail, civic involvement, church attendance,...
 
 
Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine

SEWIP block upgrade program evaluated for LCS

Navy photograph by Seaman Sabrina Fine Cryptologic Technician (Technical) Seaman Helen Hernandez monitors an SLQ-32 radar aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Dwight D. Eisenhower is deplo...
 

 

AEDC completes longest engine test in its history

For the first time, an accelerated mission test was accomplished for the F101-GE-102 engine in the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility altitude cell C-1 at Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. The $21 million test program was the longest single entry of a jet engine in AEDC’s history. The engine ran more than...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox

Kunsan AB hosts Exercise Max Thunder 14-2

Air Force photograph by SrA. Divine Cox A South Korean air force F-15 Strike Eagle lands Nov. 17, 2014, during Max Thunder 14-2 at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps and Navy personnel and aircraft...
 
 

Three bases identified as F-16 aggressor candidate bases

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford Jr. A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 6 during RED FLAG-Alaska 15-1. RF-A is a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. and partner nation...
 




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>