A-4 Skyhawks Support F-35 Operational Testing
A-4 Skyhawks have taken to the skies
over Edwards in support of operational test of the F-35A for the Royal
Netherlands Air Force. They are part of a tactics development and
evaluation exercise initiated by the 323nd Test and Evaluation Squadron
and supported by the Joint Strike Fighter Operational Test Team from
"Each service and each country has their
own specific test events that they want to test for themselves, for
their own service and their own country requirements," said Rich
Radvanyi, JOTT Planning Cell chief.
The JOTT has five operational test squadrons composed of the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, the Marines' VMX-22 squadron, the United Kingdom squadron 17(R), the Dutch 323nd Test and Evaluation Squadron and Navy squadron VX-9.
In support of the exercise, the Royal Netherlands Air Force also brought in six F-16s from the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard to serve as either allied or adversary aircraft, along with a KDC-10 Air Refueling tanker from the Royal Netherlands Air Force 334th Transport Squadron at Eindhoven Airport, Netherlands. The JOTT contracted Draken International to provide the small fleet of A-4s that were employed as adversary aircraft with a variety of types of mission sets.
For instance, if the test plan required the F-35 pilot to fly against Russian tactics, the Draken pilots would present the same tactics that a Russian fighter pilot would present.
"A lot of the Draken pilots are former military or some are even current guard or reserve pilots. A lot of them had been adversary air pilots before, so they replicate the tactics of different adversary countries," said Radvanyi.