F-35A Cleared for Initial Operations at Eglin

Aeronautical Systems Center officials at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, on Tuesday issued the military flight release that will allow the F-35A strike fighter to begin initial operations at Eglin AFB, Fla., according to a Wright-Patt release. “The Air Force, [F-35] program office, and other stakeholders have painstakingly followed established risk-acceptance and -mitigation processes to ensure the F-35A is ready,” said Gen. Donald Hoffman, head of Air Force Materiel Command that oversees ASC. Hoffman added, “This is an important step for the F-35A.” Eglin is the site of the initial joint F-35 schoolhouse. With the clearance, qualified pilots will be able to conduct “unmonitored flights” with F-35As for purposes like increasing pilot and maintainer familiarity with the aircraft and exercising the logistics infrastructure, states the release. These initial F-35A flights “will be limited, scripted, [and] conducted within the restrictions and stipulations of the MFR,” it states. (See also Tentative Steps at Eglin.)