More F-35 Joint Strike Fighters May Soon Be Headed to Eglin

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Unread post05 Oct 2018, 00:29

More F-35 Joint Strike Fighters May Soon Be Headed to Eglin Air Force Base
03 Oct 2018 Oriana Pawlyk

"The U.S. Air Force is weighing the addition of another F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, possibly as soon as 2020, has learned. The plus-up would give additional resources to the busiest Air Force F-35 training wing, providing pilots necessary, enhanced equipment currently lacking in the pipeline, according to the head of the training wing....

..."There are ongoing discussions to increase the aircraft at the 33rd Fighter Wing, to put additional aircraft and missions [here]," said Col. Paul Moga, commander of the fighter wing, which is part of Air Education and Training Command.

The hope is the wing will receive 24 jets with the latest software, Block 3F, in addition to upgrading the current fleet of fighters at the base, he said. The boost would not only give incoming pilots much newer stealth aircraft to train with, but also offer other improvements, due to the more advanced software and newer planes....

...As a result of "blunt" conversation, officials at the wing have worked with top Air Force leaders, the F-35 Joint Program Office and F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin to get supplies needed keep up with training demands.

Since May, "We did see some additional parts and support flow our way," Moga said, adding that it has since slowed because spare parts for the oldest F-35s simply don't exist anymore. Although the F-35 is the Pentagon's newest and most advanced aircraft, the oldest Joint Strike Fighters in the fleet reside at Eglin....

Upgrades Ahead
The wing's current aircraft have some of the oldest Block 2B software. But the more advanced Block 3F is on the way, Moga said. "We'll start [the process] early next year, and it's going to take a couple of years," he said, adding that there is also discussion about upgrading the fleet to the Block 4 software -- the latest software upgrade for the F-35's avionics and weapons delivery. No changes are imminent, however.

The first F-35s from Eglin will enter depot maintenance for the software and mission systems upgrades in a phased approach. It could take weeks or months to configure each jet, so the 33rd has synced any other maintenance work already on the schedule to coincide with the software upgrades. Moga said this will limit how long aircraft are at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, which houses the Ogden Air Logistics Complex....

Training to Date
The Air Force's original vision for the 33rd Fighter Wing was different, with a planned five squadrons, including three Air Force, one Marine Corps and one Navy. Today, the fighter wing maintains 25 F-35As. The Navy, which sends pilots through its own training pipeline at the base, keeps eight F-35Cs on station....

...With a potential buildup of fighters at the base, Moga said he doesn't foresee a large pipeline buildup that mirrors Luke's foreign training programs. "I think Eglin will remain U.S.-only, mainly because of the complexity with our test mission," he said, referring to the base's testing ranges, including bombing ranges and the 123,000-square-mile Gulf Test Range.

The ranges have given the students a taste of what skills they need to improve on to face threats in the real world, Moga said. "We have some really good emitters on the Eglin test and training range that we use fairly routinely, and there's ongoing discussions down here to plus that up even more," he said...."

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Unread post05 Oct 2018, 00:55

So that's where Max wound up...F-35 :salute: Wing Commander
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh

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