DoD report: Value of F-35 student training is limited (DOCUMENT)

Published: Monday, March 18, 2013 at 12:35 PM.

Winslow Wheeler, who released the report last week on the website of the Project for Government Oversight, said the analysis indicates that student training started too soon.

“The airplane is so immature that the pilots are getting very little out of it,” he said of the DoD report. “The training exercise turns out to be clearly premature and should have been held off for another couple years until more competent airplanes are available for pilots to fly.”

Toth said training student pilots, even on the limited-capability aircraft, allows them to set a foundation for the future of the program and create a cadre of instructor pilots.

In addition to the pilot training, a large number of aircraft maintainers are receiving hands-on experience with the jet and learning what it takes to get it off the ground each day, he said.

“When the aircraft is fully functional and capable, we will already have the maintainers in place and we will have pilots that are already able to operate the aircraft,” he said.

Although full functionality is still several years off, Eglin is set to receive jets with additional capabilities this year.

By the end of the month, the first Block 2 jets should be delivered to Eglin, said Kyra Hawn, a spokeswoman the F-35 Joint Program office. The jets will have additional weapons engagement capabilities.

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