The US Air Force’s (USAF) 388th Fighter Wing’s (FW) 68th F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter has performed its first combat training mission, shortly after its delivery.
The F-35A arrived at Hill Air Force Base (AFB) from Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas, production facility and took off for the first sortie in a record time of less than five hours after delivery.
388th Maintenance Group commander colonel Michael Miles stated that the sortie showcased the ability to quickly deploy F-35As directly from the factory into combat if a combat situation demands such a move.
Miles said: “The F-35A program’s production and delivery plan was designed to allow rapid aircraft induction and quick use by the customers. We’ve shown the enterprise it’s possible.”
An F-35A after coming off the production-line requires several test flights before the USAF accepts the fighter.
The data points from the tests flights are passed on to the gaining unit, in this case the 388th FW.
388th Maintenance Group chief enlisted manager chief master sergeant, Trey Munn, noted that the process and system improvements in the data collection and transfer process will expedite the induction of aircraft.
Munn said: “We’ve been working toward this goal as the program has matured and this is great step, and a testament to the work of the folks at Lockheed Martin, the Joint Program Office, and the Airmen in the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings.”
The first operational Lockheed Martin-built F-35A combat jets touched down at Hill AFB in October 2015.
The airbase is expected to receive further aircraft, taking the total count to 78 F-35s by the end of this year.