By Nate Carlisle
July 27, 2016
The United States’ newest fighter jet, and pilots and maintainers from Utah, are almost capable of deploying to a war zone, officers from Hill Air Force Base said Wednesday.
In a conference call with reporters, the commanders said the F-35 and the personnel performed well in recent mock deployments and training flights and have achieved milestones set by the Air Force.
“Every pilot here has dropped a weapon from the jet,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron commander. “Most of them inert. A couple of them live.”
The success doesn’t mean the F-35s are going into to combat anytime soon. The Air Force and observers have predicted the F-35 won’t actually be deployed until sometime between 2019 to 2022.
The first operational F-35s will be at Hill, but it still only has less than one squadron’s worth. The base is to eventually receive 72 of the jets — enough for three squadrons.[FULL ARTICLE]