Defense

June 12, 2013

Fleet grows, training increases for F-35

Tags:
Maj. Karen Roganov
Eglin AFB, Fla.

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Nicholas Egebrecht

Maintainers from the 33rd Fighter Wing put the chocks on one of two new F-35A Lightning II fighters received at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., June 5, 2013. Including the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 based here, the training fleet grew to 25 F-35A and F-35B joint strike fighters. The Navy F-35C variant is slated to arrive in the coming weeks.

The largest fleet of F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighters grew to 25 aircraft as the F-35 Integrated Training Center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., welcomed two new Air Force F-35A variants of the multi-role fighter to the Emerald Coast, June 5.

The expansion†gives†the 58th Fighter Squadron the ability to fly an expanded schedule and more readily put student pilots through the F-35 training course, according to Maj. Jay Spohn, assistant director of operations at the 58th Fighter Squadron.

“We’ll have the ability to fly a ‘four-turn-four’ or ‘six-turn-four’,” he said. The numbers indicate how many training sortie flights are accomplished in the morning schedule, then maintained and serviced to be turned back out to be flown for the afternoon schedule.

Currently, the Air Force team at the 33rd Fighter Wing is in the latter part of F-35A Pilot Class Number 4 and has started Class 5. The Marine Corps pilots here are in F-35B Class Number 4 and the Navy has completed one F-35C course and started a second this week. More than 30 pilots from all three variants have been trained at the F-35 Integrated Training Center.

The world class training devices, full mission simulators and comprehensive curriculum are preparing them for the challenges of working on the 21st century battlefield.

Two new Air Force variants of the F-35 Lightning II taxi in to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for the first time June 5, 2013. The 33rd Fighter Wing received the F-35A Lightning II jets bringing the total to 12 Air Force joint strike fighters. Including the Marine Corps variant of the F-35 based here, the training fleet grew to 25 F-35A and F-35B joint strike fighters. The Navy F-35C variant is slated to arrive in the coming weeks.

The Air Force expects to declare F-35A Lightning II initial operating capability by December 2016. For the Marines, the target date for F-35B IOC is in late 2015 and the Navy is looking at F-35C IOC in February 2019.

For now, the steps taken each day at Eglin assist in moving the F-35 program forward enterprise-wide as the team trains more people on the unprecedented, technologically-advanced 5th generation fighter.

About 72 pilots from the Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy are slated to graduate F-35 transition pilot training this year. This is made possible by a fleet of well-maintained aircraft to meet the training needs.

One such maintainer paving the way for F-35 success is Tech. Sgt. Lance Murphy, 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit here. He received one of the two new F-35s and has been tapped to be the dedicated crew chief for that aircraft.

“This is awesome knowing the jet belongs to you,” he said. “It’s my responsibility to know the overall maintenance of this particular jet bearing my name on the side.”

Murphy likened his F-35 maintenance experience to that of auto racing. “Each NASCAR has its own chief and each jet has its own crew chief. There is that same excitement when the jet is maintained and then goes out for a successful flight just like a successful race.”

Spohn believe the steady stream of accomplishments for the F-35 are a direct result of the new training course, specifically designed for the new aircraft.

“It’s an accomplishment that in less than six months since we started pilot training, we have been able to produce a course as good as any fighter course created in the last†20 years,” said Spohn.

Murphy agreed about the progress. “Each day is something new and it’s awesome to be a part of this.”

At Eglin, the Air Force has 12 F-35A joint strike fighters, the Marine Corps has 11 F-35Bs and the United Kingdom embedded with the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501 has two F-35Bs. The Navy is slated to get its first two F-35C variants in the next coming weeks.

In the out years, when operating at full capacity, the Eglin fleet will grow to 59 aircraft with about 100 pilots and 2,100 maintainers graduating yearly.




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


 
 

 

Headlines September 19, 2014

News: McKeon on broader military authorization: Anything can ‘fail or pass’ - Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said if Congress returns after the midterm elections to weigh a broader military authorization for the battle against Islamic State, it might not pass. Defense contractor gets 7 years for giving secrets...
 
 

News Briefs September 19, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,203 As of Sept. 16, 2014, at least 2,203 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,823 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 

Pratt & Whitney, U.S. Air Force complete qualification for F135 engine testing

Pratt & Whitney, a United Technologies Corp. , together with its U.S. Air Force partner at the F135 Heavy Maintenance Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., celebrated another significant milestone qualification for F135 engine testing at the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. OC-ALC which in addition to engine testing is also qualified to perform...
 

 
Navy photograph

Triton has first cross-country flight from Palmdale

Northrop Grumman photograph The MQ-4C Triton Unmanned Aircraft System takes off from Northrop Grummanís Palmdale, Calif., facility Sept. 17 for its first cross-country flight to Naval Air Station Patuxent, River, Md. PALMDALE,...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash

AFRL commander describes Air Force’s technology vision

Air Force photograph by Scott M. Ash Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello takes a question from an audience member after discussing Air Force Research Laboratory breakthrough technologies during the 2014 Air Force Association’s Air ...
 




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>