Eglin becomes ‘center of the universe’ for F-35 training

Published: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 05:48 PM.

It also will receive its first F-35C, the Navy’s variant of the jet. Dutch students also are set to begin training in January.

The 33rd faced some unique challenges to achieve what it has with the F-35.

As production slowed and the program’s progress snagged, it fell on the wing to take on a lot of the operational testing and development of a training center to keep the program moving forward.

The 33rd worked to improve the processes and procedures of the F-35 as a whole, while also getting its training program up and running, Toth said.

Bogdan said the wing has done an extraordinary job. Now, his office and Lockheed Martin, the contractor developing the new jets, have a lot of work to do to lighten some of the load.

“We’ve asked them to do an awful lot in the past year where normally a program would have been a lot more mature,” Bogdan said. “We started building airplanes maybe long before we were ready to do that, and as a result we’ve asked the maintainers here and the operators and all the base support people here to do some extraordinary things to fly these airplanes.”

After a year-long negotiation, the Pentagon announced early this month a $3.8-billion deal with Lockheed to purchase 32 more F-35s. The Pentagon’s oversight office also is taking a look at the Joint Strike Fighter program, which could cost more than $1 trillion over several decades and make it the most expensive military weapons program in history.

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