F-35A Training Syllabus Advances Ahead of IOC
Two F-35A Lightning II aircraft assigned to
the 33rd Fighter Wing here successfully employed two laser-guided
bombs March 3 at a nearby range, advancing the Air Force's F-35A
training syllabus ahead of its initial operational capability.
U.S. Air Force Photo
The training mission was the first time the
Florida-based fifth-generation fighters used actual munitions instead
of simulated weapons. The mission follows on the heels of the recent
employment of weapons by combat-coded F-35A aircraft from the 388th
Fighter Wing at the Utah Test and Training Range last week.
Capt. Brian Burgoon, 58th Fighter Squadron weapons chief, was one of two pilots who employed the GBU-12s at Shelby Range Complex.
"Things are moving swiftly for all aspects of the F-35 program at this point," said Burgoon. "This mission verified a critical component of our syllabus. Being able to employ weapons within our training units ensures we can provide our student pilots the most comprehensive training available before they go out to support a combat-coded F-35A unit."
The 33rd FW aircraft required a series of physical and software modifications to enable weapon employment as the majority of aircraft here were produced during earlier production phases. The weapons drop was originally scheduled for late spring of this year, but innovation and persistence from 33rd FW pilots and maintainers allowed for an earlier launch of the munitions.