Danger Room: Stealth Pilot Training Begins Despite Jet Delays

18.12.12

Categorie: Air, David Axe, Stealth, Wired |
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Marines welcome F-35Bs to Yuma, Arizona. Photo: Lockheed Martin

Marines welcome F-35Bs to Yuma, Arizona. Photo: Lockheed Martin

by DAVID AXE

Yesterday the Air Force officially cleared its pilots to begin formal training on the military’s small fleet of early-model F-35A Joint Strike Fighters. The clearance followed a 46-day examination of the new plane’s systems at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. “The team at Eglin went through a rigorous process to lead the way for F-35A training,” said Gen. Edward Rice, the head of Air Education and Training Command.

Prior to Rice’s go-ahead, only test pilots had flown the slowly-growing fleet of so-called “fifth-generation” F-35s stationed at Eglin and at bases in Arizona, California and Maryland. There are three versions of the jet: the Air Force’s lightweight F-35A, the Marines’ vertical-landing F-35B and the larger, heavier Navy F-35C meant for at-sea carrier ops.

But the green light for training doesn’t mean the stealth fighter – which costs $105 million a copy not counting development — will be ready for combat anytime soon. Indeed, the Air Force still hasn’t officially decided when it will declare its JSFs operable, although 2018 has been mentioned.

Read the rest at Danger Room.

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