Navy Pilots and Maintainers Ready to Fly the F-35C
U.S. Navy pilots and maintainers are training at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to bring the F-35C fighter closer to combat operations. Next on their checklist – take the first production F-35C jets to the skies for training sorties.
The Navy’s first carrier variant, marked by larger wings and more fuel capacity, was delivered to Eglin Air Force Base on June 22. A second F-35C delivery to Eglin followed on June 25.
“The flight was great. The jet handled beautifully,” said U.S. Navy pilot Lt. Cmdr. Chris Tabert who flew the first F-35C to the base, which is located in the Florida panhandle. “The F-35 offers the Navy that fifth generation strike fighter capability that we need in the carrier strike group. It will give us day one capability and bring us to the next level with the Marines and Air Force as well.”
The arrival of the F-35C aircraft allows the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps to enhance ongoing training activity at the base. The jets are assigned to U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 101 (VFA-101) which, as the Fleet Replacement Squadron, trains Navy F-35C pilots and maintainers.
Already, Navy pilots and maintainers have graduated from the F-35 Lightning II Training System. Together with the Air Force, Marine Corps and UK, a total of 51 pilots and 727 maintainers have qualified to fly and maintain the F-35. More training courses are currently in progress at Eglin.
“Our joint training team’s top priority is cost-effectively graduating mission-qualified pilots and maintainers,” said Mary Ann Horter, F-35 Sustainment Vice President for Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training. “Completely integrated with the development of the weapon system, the F-35 training system drives training realism and, ultimately, platform affordability.”
The F-35 Lightning II Training System uses courseware, electronic classrooms, simulators and live flight training sorties to prepare pilots on this fifth generation aircraft. Flexibility is built-in to every element of the system, providing the ability to accommodate all three aircraft variants, 11 countries and 13 military services.
The delivery of the two F-35C aircraft to Eglin expands the fleet already at the base to 28 jets. A total of five F-35Cs will be assigned to VFA-101 at Eglin by the end of the year.
Posted on June 28, 2013