Defense

April 10, 2013

Lightning strikes through the clear skies of Nellis

Tags:
Staff Sgt. Michael Charles
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop, 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron director of operations, inspects the exhaust of an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission April 4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The F-35A is assigned to the 422nd TES and its modern engine delivers more than 60 percent more thrust than other aircraft of the same weight.

Lightning seldom appears in the Las Vegas sky, but when it does, it is always something to behold.

Local residents can attest to the unique opportunity in Southern Nevada of seeing one bolt of lightning dash across the sky with the Las Vegas skyline in the background. However on April 4, witnesses were able to experience a sight that they had not seen before.

Unlike traditional weather that normally comes and goes with the clouds, this time there was not a cloud in the sky. This lightning was made of metal and powered by fuel. Two F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron conducted the aircraft’s first operational flights from Nellis.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop, 422nd TES director of operations and Capt. Brad Matherne, 422 TES F-35 division commander, were the first pilots to conduct and an operational flight from Nellis’ flight line.

Both have prepared for this moment for quite some time.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Brad Matherne, 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot, conducts pre-flight checks inside an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission April at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The F-35A will be integrated into advanced training programs such as the USAF Weapons School, Red Flag and Green Flag exercises

“It’s been a long time coming and the level of effort by all those involved with getting to this point has been nothing short of astounding,” Matherne said. “Now we can get down to the business of what Nellis does best; the development of tactics.”

“The squadron’s first F-35 sortie represents the culmination of efforts by a world-class operations and maintenance team,” Bishop said. This mission also signified the beginning of a new chapter in the storied history of Nellis AFB.

The successful flight does not begin or end with the pilots. Bishop went on to credit the hard work of maintenance Airmen with mastering a complex new airframe, while working overtime to ensure it was ready for flight.

“The first local F-35 flight speaks volumes about the professionalism our Nellis maintenance team,” he added. “The fact they were able to accept the aircraft and get them into the air so quickly is astonishing. These jets are new to Air Combat Command, so they are literally writing the book on many of the procedures used to maintain the aircraft.”

U.S. Air Force Capt. Brad Matherne, 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron pilot, views flightline activity inside an F-35A Lightning II before a training mission April 4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The 422nd TES will design the tactics for the F-35A. The squadron will also determine how to integrate the F-35A with other aircraft in the Air Force inventory.

Members of the 57th Maintenance Group’s Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 422nd TES have prepared for years to make the transition of the F-35A to Nellis smooth.

“All the training and preparation over the last two years have been for this day,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Prah, Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “Getting the aircraft in the air shows the hard work our maintenance Airmen have put forth in order to bring this new capability to Nellis.”

“If you look at the capability that this aircraft will bring to the fight once it’s operational, it’s humbling knowing you were involved with the initial development,” Matherne said. “It will definitely be something I look back at and take pride in for a long time.”

This historic flight comes less than a month after the March 19 arrival ceremony for the aircraft.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen Lofgren, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, noted that live flying the aircraft over the Nevada Test and Training Range is only the first step in integrating the F-35 into operations here.

A simulator is also being constructed on Nellis in order to test and develop tactics for advanced training. Together with continued operational flights, the air force will begin to see how the Lightning II reacts to realistic enemies in real-world operations.

While this may be the first time the Lightning II has appeared in the clear skies over Las Vegas, it will not be the last. The Air Force plans to assign 20 more F-35s to Nellis by 2020.

“This is the future of airpower,” Bishop said. “I am honored be a part of the team that will write the tactics, techniques, and procedures F-35 pilots will use in the years to follow.”




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


 
 

 

Headlines July 7, 2015

News: F-35 loses dogfight to fighter jet from 1980s – A new report alleges that an F-35A was defeated by the very aircraft it is meant to replace.   Business: South Korea selects Airbus for $1.33 billion tanker contract – European aerospace giant Airbus won a $1.33 billion deal June 30 to supply air refueling...
 
 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce photograph

Boeing, Embraer to collaborate on ecoDemonstrator technology tests

U.S. Chamber of Commerce photograph Frederico Curado, president & CEO of Embraer, and Marc Allen, president of Boeing International, at the Brazil-U.S. Business Summit in Washington, D.C. The event occurred during an offici...
 
 
Untitled-2

Tactical reconnaissance vehicle project eyes hoverbike for defense

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory, or ARL, has been exploring the tactical reconnaissance vehicle, or TRV, concept for nearly nine months and is evaluating the hoverbike technology as a way to get Soldiers away from ground thre...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. William Banton

Upgraded AWACS platform tested at Northern Edge

Air Force photograph by SSgt. William Banton Maintenance crew members prepare an E-3G Sentry (AWACS) for takeoff during exercise Northern Edge June 25, 2015. Roughly 6,000 airmen, soldiers, sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen ...
 
 
LM-Legion

Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod™ takes to skies

Lockheed Martin photograph by Randy Crites Lockheed Martin’s Legion Pod recently completed its first flight test, successfully tracking multiple airborne targets while flying on an F-16 in Fort Worth, Texas. Legion Pod was in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Marleah Robertson

First Marine graduates Air Force’s F-35 intelligence course

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Marleah Robertson Marine Corps 1st Lt. Samuel Winsted, an F-35B Lightning II intelligence officer, provides a mock intelligence briefing to two instructors during the F-35 Intelligence Formal Train...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>