The US Air Force (USAF) is set to evaluate the initial operating capability (IOC) of six F-35A joint strike fighter’s (JSF) at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, US.
The six aircraft will undergo an operational deployment test that will assert the aircraft’s capability to deploy.
The test will check the aircraft’s ability to execute three missions that include suppression and destruction of enemy air defence, air interdiction missions, and basic close air support.
Set to undergo testing in multiple training scenarios, the aircraft will fly approximately four sorties a day with their fourth generation counterparts, dropping 20-30 inert weapons.
USAF standardisation and evaluation chief major Colin Marshall said: "Mountain Home is great because the ranges and airspace here allow us to drop weapons and fly sorties at rates we can’t back home.
"It’s fun to find a target by talking to ground controllers, drop a bomb on that target, and then watch an A-10 roll in and strafe it, all while an F-15E orbits supersonic above and prepares for the next attack."
The aircraft currently has 419 deficiencies to be corrected while 700 to 800 deficiencies have already been addressed.
The F-35 Lightning II JSF development is scheduled to be completed in 2017, while the programme executors are plugging the various fixes.
In its budget proposal for fiscal 2017, the USAF has decided to take a cut in the programme, by reducing the procurement of F35As by five aircraft.
Image: An F-35A parks for the night under the sunshades at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jeremy L. Mosier.