Two More Production F-35s Arrive at Eglin

Deliveries of early production-model F-35A Joint Strike Fighters to Eglin Air Force Base have resumed now that the entire F-35 fleet has been cleared to fly again. This picture shows production jets AF-10 and AF-11 rolling into Elgin while accompanied by a pair of F-16s on Aug. 31. It’s always interesting to see the two generations of fighters flying together.

AF-10 and AF-11 are joining AF-8 and AF-9 as training jets for the thousands of maintainers and pilots from the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and seven F-35 partner nations who will pass through the JSF schoolhouse at the Florida panhandle base. These four planes are the first of a total of 59 JSFs that will be flown by the Eglin-based 33rd Fighter Wing.  While the JSF fleet has been cleared to fly again, the four Elgin jets will only be used for maintenance training “until all certifications are complete,” according to an Air Force announcement of AF-10 and AF-11’s arrival. It provides no further detail about what these certifications entail. The jets at Eglin are part of the fourth batch of so-called Low-Rate-Initial Production planes. This means they aren’t yet equipped with some of the defining features of the F-35 such as the still-in development Block III software — or even Block II software  — package which will be rolled out later in the decade.

  • Lance

    Good. Why don’t the Navy and USMC buy these models and get ride of the problem plagued F-35B. Just make a hard point for JATO bottle rockets for shot take off. Im glad the USAF’s F-16 replacement is at least making it ok now.

    • Anlushac11

      Because the F-35A cant operate from LHA and LHD class ships and the USMC desperately needs a replacement for the AV-8B Harrier. Equipping LHA’s and LHD’s with F-35B’s effectively doubles your offensive carrier capacity. Now we just need a V-22 that can do aerial refueling and a V-22 with AEW capability similar to E-2D Hawkeye. A LHA/LHD platform with F-35B’s and support aircraft suddenly becomes much much more than a amphibious operations platform. Its 7/10th’s of a fleet carrier.

      LHA’S/LHD’S with Harrier II’s are limited in range and capability and are largely regulated to amphibious support operations. Add F-35B’s and you suddenly have a task force that can act in the fleet carrier role if an emergency situation dictated it needed to do so. You effective

      How many F-35B’s can LHA-6 America carry? 10 normally but could carry as many as 30? Anyone remember the Harrier carriers used in Gulf War?

      How many jets will a Admiral Kuznetzov class carry? about 18-25?

  • itfunk

    Cleared to fly but cant.
    The F-35 is all about PR

  • Weaponhead

    Just think the 2 hour flight used up 1/600th of the wing fatigue life.

  • jamesb

    Over cost, Late ..but finally being delivered…..

    Like someone here reported….

    Too BIG to fail….

  • Spade Cadet

    The wing is only good for 1200 hours?

    • joe

      Operational life (where you have to disassemble, maintain and requalify) isn’t necessarily the same as service life (where you have to junk the thing).

      Most military gear only has a few years operational life, which gets extended, expanded, modifed and generally ignored whenever financially or operationally inconvenient.

  • Drew

    Haha, I was watching a documentary about stealth aircraft (made around 2005/2006) yesterday and it said “hundreds of the lower cost F-35s will be operational in the year 2010.”

    Failure.

  • JohnThePlumber

    More money spent on the taxpayer’s back.

    • William C.

      Yet we’re getting far more out of our money here than many of the things Congress wastes money on.

      • Joe Schmoe

        So two wrongs make a right? One case of corruption and incompetence does not justify another.

    • Charles DeBorgnic

      Yes, John. Isn’t it nice for a change that the Fed is actually spending some money on one of the tasks it is actually supposed to be doing, instead of all the extra crap it spends taxayer money on that has absolutely no constitutional basis? I’m sure it really matters to you how your taxpayer dollars are spent, every one of them.

  • Gene

    Either way - the Marine air wing can use this new plane.
    Please don’t use the excuse that beaches won’t need to be taken.
    The jump jet is the key weapon in the arsenal of the Marines.
    The Marine air and land team concept will always work
    together when you have the best equipment.

    When your cold, wet , hungry and low on ammo -
    the sound of the air wing coming inbound was always
    a great sight.

    • Joe Schmoe

      And boom, in addition to a second land army, now you want a second naval air wing. Anything else you would like for the Marines as well, perhaps a few submarines?

  • major.rod

    Joe - I’m an Army advocate. I agree the Marines have grown into a second land Army but that’s a whole other discussion. One thing the Marines do exceptionally well is CAS and the big difference is they own their air.

    I totally support the Marines being a small totally self sufficient force to conduct forcible entry or put small land forces in hot spots. (Think an active force of 250k and reserve growing to near 500k is a bit of overkill but again, another discussion).

    Besides bashing the F35 what do you propose as a solution? The Harrier pipeline is closed. Relying on the air force land based force? Fine for Libya when you have Italian airbases, not so good for the rest of the world and not the best when it comes to responsive close air.

  • David

    Not to pick nits, but I feel it has to be pointed out: the name of the Air Force Base is misspelled a few times in the article. It is Eglin AFB, not Elgin AFB.

  • dockem

    How long will they stay in the air this time, without another major fix?

  • Buzz

    The AF needs to buy a few hundred latest gen F-15 or 16’s to do the workload so we dont wear these things out. The first buy of these jets already have a known unfixable structual defect that will take them out of the air well before their supposed to.