TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Tyndall Air Force Base’s vast amount of airspace located over the eastern Gulf of Mexico recently supported the 308th Fighter Squadron, assigned to Luke AFB, in their mission to train 5th-generation fighter pilots.
The 308th FS traveled to Tyndall to finish six student pilots’ basic course training on the F-35A Lightning II, as well as continue training programs for transitional students and instructor pilots. The 308th FS training organization is unique as it caters to both domestic and foreign forces, including students from the Netherlands and Denmark.
“The interoperability that we have between the United States and partner squadrons establishes a foundation for future [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] F-35 operations,” explained Maj. Robert Cowsert, 308th FS assistant director of operations. “Our goal is to provide students the experience of operating from an unfamiliar airfield, integration with other aircraft types, and to achieve high-level end-of-course training. Our joint tactics ensure seamless integration.”
The training allowed pilots from the three nations to not only fly with Tyndall aircraft, but also Eglin AFB and Alabama Air National Guard assets. To support visiting personnel and aircraft, the 325th Fighter Wing’s Plans and Programs Office and the 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron Reception Working Group combined efforts to ensure the visiting unit is secure with all necessary assets to complete the exercise.
“We are the magic that ensures the visiting units are able to meet their goal,” said Capt. Logan Davis, RWG lead. “We handle necessities ranging from communications support to transportation. The Wing Program Office coordinates exercise plans then provides us with situational awareness so we can prepare to support.”
Team Tyndall constantly hosts different units during large-scale training exercises such as Checkered Flag and the Weapons System Evaluation Program. However, providing assistance to the 308th FS is especially beneficial as Tyndall is preparing for its own arrival of F-35 squadrons. Hosting trainings like this allows for base agencies to test what works well when housing the aircraft.
“With Luke coming out, it shows what is in store for our future F-35 mission,” explained Davis. “This allows our team to get ready for what Tyndall is anticipated to be like in the next two or three years. It is as if we are dipping our toes in the water of future operations, not only for maintenance and those out on the flight line, but for the whole base.”
Supporting the 308th FS capstone allows Team Tyndall to train and project unrivaled combat airpower, not only for U.S. forces, but NATO forces as well. The production of 5th-generation fighter pilots is already in Tyndall’s mission, but with supporting the F-35s, Tyndall is also learning how to better execute future F-35 missions as the “Installation of the Future” is crafted.