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Training set to start on USAF's new F-35s

25th July 2011 - 15:46 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Following the recent arrival of the first AF-9 and AF-8 training aircraft to Eglin AFB, the USAF and Lockheed Martin are on target for flight training to begin by the end of the year.

The AF-9 was delivered on 14 July, and the AF-8 six days later. The aircraft will be used for training F-35 pilots of the 33rd Fighter Wing, and will be incorporated into the new Integrated Training Center set to be operational towards the end of this year, F-35 operators told reporters on 21 July.

The AF-8 is the eighth F-35 variant to be delivered this year, with the fleet eventually totalling 59, and according to Col Andrew Toth, Commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, theory training and system familiarisation is set to begin now the aircraft has arrived.

He said that timelines for production have not changed, and everything is set to be fully operational towards the end of the year as planned.

‘The game plan right now is that we have the aircraft right here, and around the summer we’re going to be conducting both maintenance operations from a blue suit maintainer perspective and Lockheed Martin will be making sure all of our procedures and processes are in place for when we start the OUE [operational utility evaluation], and the game plan is to start the OUE at the end of this year,’ explained Toth. 

‘Our pilots that will be going through the OUE will start academics roughly for six weeks, and then they will start flying the aircraft after.’ 

The importance of the helmet, during training and on missions, was emphasised by both Toth and a Lockheed Martin representative.

‘The helmet is part of our training system right now with our two test pilots that we have out at Edwards doing acceptance flights out at Fort Worth; they are actually using the system itself in the daytime operations mode. So far it is performing very well for them,’ Toth explained.

‘In the simulator we use the helmet, but it is specially modified and tailored for a trainer environment, because in the aircraft the HMD [helmet mounted display] projects out to infinity because you are in an open space, but in the trainer environment we have to take that HMD and tailor it…so that the pilot appears to get the same imagery as if he was out in the aircraft,’ Joanne Puglisi, Lockheed Martin director of F-35 training added.

The main difference between the new training systems and legacy ones is that this is a fully integrated system, taking information from outside of the cockpit and bringing it to the pilot, Toth told Shephard.

This results in increased accuracy and reduces the number of assets required, he added.
These deliveries mark a decade since the Mission X flight, during which the Lockheed Martin Joint Strike Fighter X-35B completed a successful flight after achieving a flying first: a short takeoff, a level supersonic dash and a vertical landing in a single flight. 

The Shephard News Team


The Shephard News Team

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