South Korean Air Force pilot major Kiyun Jung has carried out his maiden solo F-35A flight at the US Air Force’s (USAF) Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
The first flight was conducted following one year of preparation and instruction from the 944th Operations Group Detachment 2, Lockheed Martin, and active duty team members at the 56th Fighter Wing.
Before carrying out the solo mission, Jung carried out intensive academic, simulator and hands-on training with the 56th Fighter Wing 944th Operations Group Detachment 2.
Jung said: “I felt so excited for this flight, and because of my instruction, this aircraft felt familiar and I was able to have a smooth experience.
“This is my job and it felt great to finally take-off and work on becoming the best F-35 pilot I can be. My goal moving forward as an F-35 pilot is to lead and teach my fellow pilots in Korea to become the best in the world.”
During the solo F-35A flight, the South Korean Air Force, 944th Operations Group Detachment 2, 56th Fighter Wing and staff from Lockheed Martin worked together to ensure a safe and efficient flight for the F-35A pilot.
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944th Operations Group Detachment 2 lieutenant colonel Eric Puels said: “This flight is a huge milestone for [South Korea], and for us to be a part of that is an amazing honour because we realise the magnitude of this event for both countries.
“For us to be able to forge these relationships and get to know these pilots during their journey toward fifth-generation airpower is incredible.”
The F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter is the conventional take-off and landing variant of the aircraft that provides the USAF and allies with the ability to operate effectively in the skies.