Monday, April 29, 2013

F-35: VMFAT-501 launches 8 F-35s, does 16 sorties in 3 hours

Lt. Col David Berke, commander of VMFAT-501 at Eglin AB in Florida, recently announced:
Today (April 26, 2013), VMFAT-501 executed an 8 ship launch for Air to Air and Air to Ground training, completed hot refueling on all eight jets and launched them on a second mission.
That's big news.  One of the early but unsubstantiated criticisms of the F-35  was it wouldn't be reliable enough to have a high sortie rate.  8 for 8 is pretty reliable in anyone's book.  In fact, the criticisms we're seeing remind one of the same sorts of criticisms (ironically from many of the same critics) we saw concerning the Apache helicopter prior to Desert Storm (or the M1 Abrams MBT for that matter).  We then saw how well it performed, actually firing the opening shots in that battle.

A reminder - hot refueling is done at the completion of a mission with the pilot still in the aircraft (rearming would also take place during that period).  It is a method the Marine Corps uses to increase the sortie rate for it's aircraft.  The F-35s apparently performed well.

Col Arthur Tomassetti, Vice Commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin said of the event:
The ability for VMFAT-501 to launch and recover 8 jets at the same time shows the increasing capability of the training center at Eglin and the continuing maturity of the F-35 program. 
Indeed it does.


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