Seven aircraft maintainers from the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., arrived at the Navy’s test site at Patuxent River, Md., to get hands-on experience with the F-35 strike fighter. These airmen will spend 75 days at Pax River working on the Marine Corps F-35Bs and Navy F-35Cs undergoing testing there. This will help prepare them for the arrival of the first Air Force F-35As at Eglin later this year as part of the initial joint F-35 schoolhouse. “It is beneficial working around the F-35B and F35C variants,” said MSgt. Timothy Weaver, a 33rd FW crew chief. Although each F-35 variant has different design features—such as the F-35C having larger wing surfaces—they are similar enough that the Eglin airmen will benefit from performing basic maintenance, such as refueling and launch and recovery, said Weaver. (Patuxent River report by Andrea Watters)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.