Nellis-based F-35 Fighters Debut in Simulated Combat

Las Vegas Review-Journal // June 03, 2015

The Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II, is taking a star turn in an ongoing air combat training exercise over the Army Combat Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

The Air Force has used aircraft equipped with F-35 sensors in past exercises, but this will be the first time that more “operationally representative” aircraft take part, Air Combat Command Gen. Herbert Carlisle said Monday after an Air Force Association event.

The Green Flag West exercise, staged in part by Nellis Air Force Base, aims to expose weapons and pilots to more real-world battle scenarios. They are particularly important for fine-tuning coordination between between pilots and troops on the ground who pinpoint air strike targets.

Two F-35s from the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., are participating in the simulated air-to-ground battle, Nellis spokesman Master Sgt. Sanjay Allen said Tuesday. He said the Green Flag West 15-8 exercise began Friday and will run through June 12.

Allen said the F-35s are not dropping weapons in the close air-support exercise administered by the U.S. Air Force Air Warfare Center and Nellis through the 549th Combat Training Squadron.

One or two F-35 A-model jets will participate in the daily exercises along with F-16 fighter planes, A-10 gunships and other weapons, said Lt. Col. Cameron Dadgar, commander of the 549th at Nellis.

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