F-35A First and Newer Wing Cooperation Accelerates Stand-Up, Shapes Future> US Air Force> Post Display




The Air Force’s first combat code F-35A Lightning II wing sends planes to the Air Force’s newest F-35A wing to help speed up their stand-up.

Four F-35A Lightning II Hill Air Force Base‘s 388th Fighter Wing took off on a four hour flight across the Pacific Northwest to Eielson AFB, Alaska, April 27. They will be part of the 354th Fighter Wing’s inventory for the next two months.

“From our experience here, we know that when you create a new program, every day is essential. said Col. Steven Behmer, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing. “By loaning them these four planes, we hope it will help accelerate their ability to train and bring more capabilities to the Air Force as a whole.”

Hill AFB aircraft joins the first two Lockheed Martin F-35As delivered to Eielson AFB Last week. Eielson AFB is expected to receive two or three F-35s per month from the factory until they reach a total of 54 aircraft in two squadrons by early 2022.

The loan, which both wing operations and maintenance groups have been planning for some time, is a welcome boost.

“We are in the early stages of F-35 operations here, and right now I have more pilots than planes,” said Colonel David Skalicky, commander of the 354th Operations Group. “We went to TDY to get the outings and times we need, but COVID-19[female[feminine put an end to this. So the timing of this loan couldn’t be better.

While pilots need the aircraft to conduct four-ship combat training sorties, maintenance managers also need hands-on training time. The additional plane will allow groups to better prioritize these opportunities.

“In any new mission start-up, you have a high demand for training in operations, maintenance and mission support,” said Col. Matthew Powell, commander of 354 Maintenance Group. “These additional aircraft will help us get both in-flight training and dedicated maintenance training for our new crew chiefs, avionics and weapons technicians.”

The synergy built into the F-35’s maintenance systems allowed 388th FW maintenance managers to examine their current fleet and select four aircraft that would likely not need downtime for routine maintenance. said Colonel Michael Miles, commander of the 388th Maintenance Group. The jets are also close in production to the jets Eielson AFB will receive from the factory, so they will have the same parts and components in stock.

The supply of aircraft is not the only (or even the most important) support Hill AFB provided to Eielson AFB – they are people – experienced 388th maintainers who were added to the 354th MXG framework.

“These people know the unique requirements of a fifth generation aircraft. Everything we’ve learned as an air force from 2015 to today, both the good and the bad, has helped us plan, shape and prepare for what we need to do here, ”said Powell. “And they also come from a coded combat perspective at Hill (AFB), which is different from training and testing bases.”

Once Eielson AFB’s F-35A stand-up is complete, Alaska will be an even more robust training environment for the Air Force.

“We are capitalizing on this aircraft loan in the short term, but in the long term it will allow us to give back to Hill (AFB) and the rest of the F-35 community. We have rare training airspace and a lineup with some of the most high-tech threat emitters. We have the space you need to be able to train effectively with fifth generation aircraft, ”said Skalicky. “We have internal aggressors here and Air National Guard oil tankers. At Elmendorf (AFB) we have F-22sand AWACS. We have everything you need in Alaska to train for this fight of the future.

The work of the 388th FW allowed the Air Force to reach its initial operational capability with the F-35A, and with this aircraft loan, Hill AFB plays an important role in another important step before the Air Force cannot declare full operational capability, Skalicky said.

“Our vision as the first combat-coded maintenance group has been to own the future and shape the future, and this effort is consistent with that,” said Miles. “It’s a victory for us to help them fight faster and to no longer be the only F-35A unit coded for combat. In the long term, this gives us a brother in arms, who will lead the fight against the enemy with us.



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