Eglin F-35As Cleared for Flight

The Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter training jets that have been sitting on the tarmac at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., — home of the F-35 schoolhouse — have finally been cleared to fly.

Now, this doesn’t mean that student pilots will be strapping on the A-model jets later in the week. The Eglin jets face months of test flights to make sure that the small fleet can actually perform the training mission before any student pilots can get behind the controls. Click here to read a post I wrote last week over at DoDBuzz on this topic.

The pic above shows Eglins first F-35A arriving at the base from the JSF factory in Texas last summer. The planes have been sitting on the ground since arrival while the waited for their Military Flight Release (the green light to begin flight ops).

Here’s the Air Force’s press release announcing that the jets have been cleared for flight:

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Officials at the Aeronautical Systems Center here issued a Military Flight Release today that will allow the F-35A Lightning II fighter to begin initial operations at Eglin AFB, Fla.

This decision was reached after an airworthiness board conducted an assessment that evaluated potential risks and the corresponding mitigation actions to conduct unmonitored flights. Flying the Air Force variant of the Joint Strike Fighter will increase pilot and maintainer familiarity with the aircraft, exercise the logistics infrastructure and continue to develop aircraft maturity.  These initial F-35A flights will be limited, scripted, conducted within the restrictions and stipulations of the MFR and flown by qualified pilots, officials said.

“The Air Force, Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and other stakeholders have painstakingly followed established risk acceptance and mitigation processes to ensure the F-35A is ready.  This is an important step for the F-35A and we are confident the team has diligently balanced the scope of initial operations with system maturity,” said General Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, the parent organization of ASC.

The assessment was conducted with airworthiness engineering subject matter experts within ASC and was fully coordinated with the F-35 joint Strike Fighter Program Office, Air Education and Training Command, and other expert participants.  The Air Force is confident the aircraft is ready to fly in a safe and efficient manner, Hoffman said.

  • itfunk

    “painstakingly followed established risk acceptance and mitigation processes to ensure the F-35A is ready. This is an important step for the F-35A and we are confident the team has diligently balanced the scope of initial operations with system maturity”

    In other words the aircraft are broken - but what can we do ? just accept the risk and fly anyways.

    No doubt the call sign for a student about to eject from his stricken JSF will be “Broken Turkey”

    • Oblah-blah

      Still feeling bitter, I see. At least the F-35 program is progressing and will soon become the main stay of our forces. Unlike the other real armchair turkeys with nothing else to do but cuckoo-mouth the F-35 and anything that has to do with it.

    • passingby

      that’s right itfunk.

      As Senate Armed Services Committee member Claire McCaskill (Missouri, Dem) says about the F-35 program “… this program is too big to fail. We’re going to push money across the table. We’re going to push back timelines. We’re going to push money across the table.” (She said “push money across the table” twice!!! LOL!!!)

      She pretentiously put up a stern face and demanded to know “whose fault it is” as if she was actually going to do something about it.

      Same for perennial crooks Joe Lieberman and others representing the military industrial complex.

  • Lt_Kitty

    Slow and steady, am I right?… when do we get to throw some real heat at these birds? (impatient fiery young engineer)

  • blight_

    There was an article on the news (saw it on MSNBC, to be precise) that reported that Marines, Navy, and AF pilots had already come to Eglin and were chomping at the bit; but were limited to taxing, simulators and training on other aircraft.

    Good lord, the sooner these things get done, the better. If LCS “finishes” first that’ll be the embarassing moment.

  • Lance

    Cool still prefer more F-22s over this plane though.

  • Black Owl

    I just hope they found out what needs to be properly modified on the F-35A and get it working to acceptable standards for combat operations. The F-35A is the only one that I can see working on level practical for the USAF and allies.

    The B-model and C-model should have been scrapped a long time ago since the major design flaws in them can’t be properly fixed without drastic increases in their already ridiculously high prices. Super Hornet International Road Map jets would fulfill their role better anyway:

    • Commisar12

      I thought I would never see the day when BlackOwl says ANYTHING good about any F-35 variant.

  • RunningBear

    Heh, heh, heh! Come on Drama Queens, surely you can do better than this! Congrats to the JSF Program and the Eglin Training Organization. Anxiously we await all three variants to each of the services and truly appreciate the “mindbending” technology being developed for these new tactical systems.

  • Musson1

    They are starting to call it the Chevy Volt of advanced fighter aircraft.

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      “They” being who? Just in the interest of completeness….

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

  • tiger

    Damn, A year later & this program is still crawling………

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