Not much news out on the F-35 over the long holiday weekend, but I found this interesting:
Flying in formation with the Navy F-35C was the final compliment of the third F-35B for the United Kingdom based here as part of an Initial Operational Test & Evaluation Implementing Arrangement. The U.K. trains with the U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Training Squadron-501 and fly each other's jets interchangeably.So block 2A software is being added to the curriculum as the new fighters come in. Obviously, the older fighters will be upgraded soon as well, or so one would think. Also interesting that the UK, who will have F-35Bs exclusively, is training with the Marine Corps. Makes sense.
This latest United Kingdom F-35B has upgraded software, defined as Block 2A, making it the first such for the combined Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and United States Marine Corps assets at the VMFAT-501.
Having the enhanced software for both the Navy fighters here and now the VMFAT-501 means pilot training curriculum steadily grows as capabilities come on board.
"An increased use of the digital aperture system, one of the key sensors of the joint strike fighter, marks one such step forward for F-35 training," said Col. Todd Canterbury, commander of the 33d Fighter Wing and overall spearhead for joint and international training here. The Air Force's 58th Fighter Squadron here also trains with the enhanced software, he said.
The fleet continues to grow toward 59 aircraft scheduled to fly at the F-35 Integrated Training Center, part of Eglin's 33rd Fighter Wing. By the end of this calendar year, the team is planning for 42 of those joint strike fighters to be here, he said.
To date, the three services and the United Kingdom have seen 53 pilots and 857 maintainers qualified to fly and maintain the F-35 as the training progresses. All training is geared toward F-35 initial operating capabilities, according to Canterbury.