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.


 
 

 
af-spacex

Air Force certifies SpaceX for national security space missions

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s Falco...
 
 
Army photograph

Army’s mid-tier radio advances battlefield network

Army photograph The mid-tier networking vehicular radio, or MNVR, is being tested extensively, including a limited user test, which was conducted this month at Network Integration Evaluation 15.2. This soldier is operating the ...
 
 
DARPA photograph

Human-robot teams compete June 5 at DARPA finals

DARPA photograph Team KAIST, from Daejeon, South Korea, and its robot DRC-HUBO negotiate mock rubble at a test site March 6, 2015. DARPA photo   In eight days, 25 human-robot teams will compete on the rubble-strewn field of a...
 

 
af-QF4

QF-4 aerial target program concludes

5/26/2015†-†One of the 82nd Aerial Target Squadronís QF-4s sits on the drone runway prior to takeoff May 12 at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. This unmanned QF-4 was used as a full-scale target and shot down by a pilot from t...
 
 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Smart-mortar will help Soldiers more effectively hit targets

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez Nick Baldwin and Evan Young, researchers with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Pennsylvania, discuss the 120mm Guided Enhanced Fragmentation Mortar ...
 
 

Air Force assigns new chief scientist

The Air Force announced the service’s new chief scientist to serve as a science and technology adviser to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force, May 21. Dr. Greg Zacharias will be the 35th chief scientist and is ready to “dive in” to his new role. “I...
 




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>