Italian air force pilots flew their first F-35 training sortie from the schoolhouse at Luke AFB, Ariz., Nov. 5, becoming the first Italian air force pilots to fly the Lightning II, officials announced. “Every aspect of today’s operation was a multinational effort,” said 61st Fighter Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Michael Gette. One of the Italian pilots flew a Royal Australian Air Force F-35A, coached by an Air Force Reserve Command instructor pilot, launched by a mix of contractor and RAAF maintainers, according to Luke. “It was a great example of how all the partner nations are cooperating to make this program a reality and shows how Luke … is becoming the international training hub for the F-35,” added Gette. Student pilots began training sorties at Luke in March, and the 56th Fighter Wing stood up a second F-35 training squadron early this summer. This year, the RAAF launched international training at Luke, and Norway’s first F-35A is slated to arrive at the schoolhouse?. Luke will also eventually host Canadian, Dutch, and Turkish students, and a fleet of 144 Lightning IIs.
Lessons from the KC-46 and F-35 will prove useful for the testing community in the years to come, said Nickolas Guertin, the nominee to be director of operational test and evaluation for the Pentagon, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 19.