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 August 26, 2015

News: U.S. F-22s deploying to Europe¬†– Weeks after top Pentagon officials began openly calling Russia the greatest threat to the United States, the Air Force is preparing to deploy the F-22 Raptor to Europe for the first time.   Business: Lockheed pays $4.8 million to settle illegal lobbying claim¬†– Sandia Corp. and parent company Lockheed...
 
 

News Briefs August 26, 2015

160 Marines in Bulgaria with tanks, artillery for training U.S. Marines accompanied by tanks, artillery, and light-armored reconnaissance vehicles have arrived in Bulgaria, part of a plan to train with allies to improve weapons skills and anti-armor tactics. The U.S. Marine Corps Forces said Aug. 25 some 160 Marines accompanied the tanks and artillery, which...
 
 
LM-satellite

Lockheed Martin makes tiny satellite cooling system

Lockheed Martin scientists are packing three times the power density into a key satellite cooling system whose previous design is already the lightest in its class. This project continues the company’s effort to reduce co...
 

 
space-camp

Space Camp: Once in a lifetime experience

PALMDALE, Calif.–Amazing, inspiring and motivating were a few of the words Space Camp graduates Lauren Baker and Ethan Calderone used to describe their experience recent experience at Space Camp. Ethan Calderone, a Palmda...
 
 
Northrop Grumman photograph by Bob Brown

Northrop Grumman delivers telescope structure for James Webb Space Telescope

Northrop Grumman photograph by Bob Brown Northrop Grumman employees preparing the telescope structure, for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope for shipment to Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. REDONDO BEACH, Cal...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Tommie Horton

Integration lab to support C-5 software, hardware upgrades

Air Force photograph by Tommie Horton The 402nd Software Maintenance Group has been tasked by the C-5 System Program Office with updating the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex C-5 System Integration Lab with installation of a...
 




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>