First F-35A For Weapons School

The US Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nev., received its first F-35A, announced base officials. The new aircraft touched down at the desert base on Jan. 15 after a ferry flight from Lockheed Martin’s F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas. The new airframe will be used to drive tactics development at the Weapons School. Over the next year, the school’s instructors and staff will develop a curriculum for the first F-35A Weapons Instructor Course, said school Commandant Col. Adrian Spain. The school is scheduled to receive a total of 24 F-35As. Nellis has hosted a separate force of F-35As for developmental and operational testing since March 2013. The Weapons School’s airplanes will initially operate under the umbrella of the 16th Weapons Squadron, the F-16 WIC unit, said Lt. Col. David Epperson, the squadron’s commander. The school will leverage knowledge from other systems as it builds F-35A expertise, and WIC instructors as well as operational test and evaluation cadre will be vital in developing tactics and thinking “outside the container, and to look into the future,” said Epperson. Over the next two years, pilots will transition to Nellis to get important F-35A experience, which will aid in developing the school’s F-35A syllabus. The first USAFWS course is tentatively scheduled to begin in January 2018.