F-35 Schoolhouse Clears Eval Run

The F-35 schoolhouse completed a test run of its pilot training pipeline, completing its Operational Utility Evaluation at Eglin AFB, Fla., Nov. 15. The OUE was the last major hurdle before the 33rd Fighter Wing is cleared to begin full-up F-35 training, according to wing officials. “We were able to conduct the flying portion in less than half the time than we planned for because things went so well with the flying, weather was good, maintainers were doing a great job,” said 33rd FW Commander Col. Andrew Toth. The initial cadre of four student pilots began transition training in September. After six weeks of academic instruction and 24 sorties, the graduated as fully qualified F-35A Lightning II pilots. “Once we receive the Air Education and Training Command’s approval stating we are ‘ready for training,’ we can begin our first class,” added Toth. After one year’s normalized training, the schoolhouse plans to graduate approximately 100 pilots and 2,100 maintainers annually. (Eglin report by Chrissy Cuttita)