As the U.S. Air Force prepares for initial F-35 Lightning II operations, pilots at Hill Air Force Base are rehearsing missions with new simulators delivered by Lockheed Martin.
Pilots are now training with four Full Mission Simulators linked together to hone their tactical employment of the F-35 against ground and airborne threats. As a complement to live flights, the Full Mission Simulators present a secure, realistic environment for pilots to develop tactics and integrate the F-35 into the Air Force’s arsenal. The 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base is the first operational F-35A squadron and will reach combat readiness in August 2016.
“The F-35 is going to be an incredible advancement in our capability as an Air Force, and the Full Mission Simulators present an environment to adequately challenge our pilots as they prepare for combat,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron Commander.
“All the pieces of the technology puzzle are coming together to support the Air Force’s F-35 mission readiness,” said Mary Ann Horter, vice president of F-35 Sustainment Support at Lockheed Martin. “Airmen at Hill Air Force Base are launching the future of aviation, and our focus is supporting them with the most effective training and logistics technologies.”
To date, 143 pilots and 846 maintainers for the Air Force have qualified through the F-35 Training System. By August 2016, more than 190 F-35 pilots and 1,000 maintenance personnel for the Air Force will be mission ready.
The Full Mission Simulators are the centerpiece of the F-35 Training System designed to maximize simulation for effectiveness and affordability. Currently, 191 suppliers contribute to the F-35 Training System. The F-35 program is built on extensive industrial participation to generate economic growth in F-35 nations and deliver the best value.
The F-35 Lightning II, a 5th generation fighter, combines advanced low observable stealth technology with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Following the Marine Corps’ 2015 combat-ready Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration, the U.S. Air Force and Navy intend to attain service IOC in 2016 and 2018, respectively.