Ten F-35s flew from their training site at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for two weeks this month in the first test of how the jets, pilots and maintainers could move and operate from a new base.
This first training “deployment” tested half of Luke’s fleet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, from April 4-18.
“Operating away from Luke has been a huge success for the wing, Team Nellis and the F-35 program in general,” Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, the commander of the 56th Figher Wing, in a news release. “We are learning lessons that will be hugely important for our pilots and maintainers across the F-35 program.”
The move comes more than a year before the Air Force is scheduled to reach its initial operating capability, in which it needs to be able to have 12 or more aircraft and airmen in a squadron ready to deploy.
“Though Luke is a training base, we will continue to push the training here to be as close to the operational side as we can,” Pleus said in the release. “This helps us learn to be more efficient, which will set future operational bases up for success.”
The deployment marked the first time the Air Force part of the F-35 program had moved a large amount of jets and set up operations at another location, Lt. Col. Michael Ebner, commander of the 61st Fighter Squadron, said in the release. At Nellis, the F-35 flew with other jets such as F-16s and F-22s.