View Full Version : Eglin joint JSF training wing stands up Oct. 1

07-26-2009, 04:12 PM
Eglin joint JSF training wing stands up Oct. 1

By Andrew Tilghman - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Jul 26, 2009 8:44:36 EDT

The first training pipeline for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will open at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., this fall, creating a joint training wing that will feed pilots and maintainers into the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps over the next five years.

The training wing that stands up Oct. 1 will spawn the first fleet squadrons for the services and create the first career paths for the largest fighter jet program in history.

“It’s more than a PowerPoint slide now — it’s close, and it’s coming fast,” said Navy Capt. Michael Saunders, a former Top Gun instructor who was tapped to lead the Navy’s transition.

Saunders will be deputy commander of 33rd Operations Group, the training unit that will oversee the training units for each service and their specific F-35 models.

“Every maintenance guy who turns a wrench or pilot who flies [the F-35] will come through here in the next five or six years,” Saunders said.

The first simulators will begin arriving at Eglin next year, along with an initial batch of Air Force F-35As and Marine Corps F-35Bs, Saunders said. The Navy’s F-35C should begin arriving in 2012.

A total of 59 planes will equip the 33rd Operations Group — 24 Air Force models, 20 Marine Corps variants for short takeoff and vertical landings, and 15 Navy carrier versions.

The Air Force’s F-35A has completed initial flight tests. The first Marine Corps F-35B will test its vertical landing mechanism this fall. The first F-35C for the Navy rolls off its Lockheed Martin production line Tuesday.

Each service will start with a small cadre of test pilots and maintainers who will spend several months getting familiar with the aircraft’s new systems and technology. That group will in turn train others to fill out training units. Finally, those training units at Eglin will begin accepting fleet personnel who will man the first operational squadrons.

“What we eventually want to do is pollinate into the [fleet replacement squadron] and pollinate out into the fleet,” Saunders said.

Navy and Marine Corps pilots will have to adjust to the F-35’s cockpit controls, which have a side-stick and throttle more closely resembling the F-16 than the F/A-18.

Lockheed Martin officials say the aircraft’s systems are more intuitive than prior control mechanisms and the test pilots using preliminary simulators adapt easily.

“We’re able to get them up to speed in a couple of days,” said Steve Weatherspoon, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 deputy for test and verification.
Joint Strike Fighter milestones

* 2009: Air Force stands up the first formal training unit, the 58th Fighter Wing, with selected pilots and maintainers.

* 2010: First F-35A aircraft arrive (spring).

* 2012: The 58th Fighter Wing begins accepting fleet personnel.

* 2013: Initial operational capability.


07-26-2009, 05:35 PM
Sick! Can't wait to see the F-35 in action.

07-26-2009, 08:20 PM
Very cool I was hiking around the edge of eglin a few months ago.