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Worth the Wait? US Air Force’s First F-35 Squadron May Soon Be Combat Ready

from Sputnik News:

After multiple technical errors, performance issues, budgetary battles and delays, the Pentagon’s “Little Fighter That Could” may finally be deemed combat ready.

While several international partners in the F-35 Joint Strike fighter program have threatened to back out, citing exorbitant costs and performance issues, the United States has stood by their airplane, and the US Air Force may finally be ready to declare its first 12 F-35As ready for combat.

“We have achieved all our milestones,” said Lt. Col. Steven Anderson, deputy commander of the 388th Maintenance Group, according to Defense News. “We have submitted all of the data to ACC [Air Combat Command] for General [Herbert] Carlisle’s consideration on making that declaration.”

Hill Air Force base, which houses the squadron, has filed official paperwork after going through an extensive checklist to ensure the F-35s’ capabilities.

While the air base has 15 F-35s, only 12 have received the modifications necessary to meet combat readiness requirements. These include adequate lightning protection and fuel system improvements.

In March, tests showed that the aircraft suffered from a software glitch that affected the plane’s radar systems and flight performance. The 12 F-35s have received a patch that fixes these previous issues, according to tests performed with a separate squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

“We’ve deployed with the current software we had and it worked,” Carlisle said, according to Defense News. “The Marines have deployed with it in its current configuration.

“It’s not quite up to where we wanted to be, but there’s workarounds.”

Hill Air Force base has also focused heavily on flight training for pilots, another requirement on the checklist. It now has more than enough pilots who have conducted the required number of training sorties and gone through intensive analysis of the F-35’s diagnostics.

“As of today, we have 21 pilots combat mission ready based on the number of training sorties they’ve done in the last 30 days,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, commander of the squadron.

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1 comment to Worth the Wait? US Air Force’s First F-35 Squadron May Soon Be Combat Ready

  • Ed_B

    In spite of the hysterical bleating of those who know f*** all about the military, virtually ALL new weapons systems have bugs that need to be worked out. Once they are worked out, which cannot be done during the R&D phase but only in the real world, these systems become front line weapons system. The Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the Bradley fighting vehicle come to mind. Initially, both of these systems were far from perfect. But after a couple of years of hard work and many bug fixes, these are among the top combat systems on Earth. This is not easily achieved but the results speak for themselves. Both are now excellent systems that accomplish their assigned missions and save the lives of US service personnel. There isn’t a military in the world that would refuse these systems, if they were offered to them.

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