Tag Archives: Luke

Italy takes delivery of first F-35

Italy took delivery of its first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II on Thursday 3 December, three months after the aircraft became the first F-35 to be built and fly outside the US. The handover took place at Cameri airfield, home to the Final Assembly and Check Out (FACO) facility operated by aviation manufacturer Alenia Aermacchi.

Representatives from F-35 program partners such as the US, UK, Netherlands, Canada, Turkey, Australia and Norway witnessed the delivery ceremony at Cameri. The purposely built Alenia Aermacchi factory accommodates both an F-35 production line and maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade facilities.

Transatlantic

The first Italian F-35 will fly to the US this February for training purposes at Luke Air Force Base, where the first Italian pilots recently flew US-owned F-35s. A Italian Air Force KC-767 tanker will support the F-35 on the transatlantic journey, the first ever for the type. Refueling between the Lightning II and KC-767 was tested last July in the US.

The first F-35 Lightning II from the assembly line in Italy (Image © Larry Bramblett / Lockheed Martin)
The first F-35 Lightning II from the assembly line in Italy (Image © Larry Bramblett / Lockheed Martin)

Countries

Italy is now the sixth country to own the F-35, following the US, UK, the Netherlands, Australia and Norway. The latter recently received its first two aircraft and flew them to Luke for training purposes as well.

The Australian aircraft are at Luke as well, while the two Dutch F-35s are to be found at Edwards airbase for operational test and evalution (OT&E). The British Lightning IIs are at Edwards also for tests.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The first Italian built F-35 seen during its first flight in September. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

First Norwegian F-35 sortie, jets arrive at Luke

The first two Norwegian F-35s arrived at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, on Tuesday 10 November after a flight from their birthplace in Fort Worth, Texas. Shortly after, a Norwegian pilot flew the F-35 Lightning II for the first time, in conjunction with the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s 71st birthday.

Update 12 December 2015: Norway ordered another six F-35s, bringing the total order to 23 aircraft.

The Norwegians are the third nationality to arrive at Luke, apart from the US pilot obviously based there. In December 2014, Australian pilots started training at Luke, followed by Italian pilots just last week. Norway will eventually have seven F-35s stationed at Luke.

Training Program
Eight other nations will be training alongside the U.S. on the new airframe. Other partner nations that will be joining the U.S., Norway and Australia in the F-35 training program here will be Turkey and the Netherlands, in addition to Foreign Military Sales countries Japan, South Korea and Israel.

“When it comes to the partnership, we see a very good transfer from our experience with the F-16 to the F-35,” said Royal Norwegian air force Maj. Morten Hanche, 62nd FS training pilot. “Working with the same and some new partners, will allow us the same benefits. Also, it will allow us to easily integrate and operate together as one force. This is because we train together, we know each other and we keep it very similar.”

Luke currently has 32 F-35s and by 2024, Luke is scheduled to have six fighter squadrons and 144 F-35s.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editors Dennis Spronk and Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): A Norwegian F-35 at Luke. (Image © US Air Force / Staff Sgt. Marcy Copeland)


RELATED POST: F-35 Day for Norway
Front view of the first RNoAF F-35A (Image © Forsvaret)
Front view of the first RNoAF F-35A (Image © Forsvaret)

First Italian pilots fly F-35

Two Italian pilots completed their initial training flight in the F-35 Lightning II on 5 November at Luke Air Force Base marking the first F-35 flights under control of an Italian pilot. One Italian flew his mission in an Australian F-35. Two U.S. instructor pilots from the 61st Fighter Squadron flew alongside the Italians, guiding them through their first flight.

“This has been a big day for the 61st, for Luke AFB, and for the F-35 program,” said Lt Col Michael Gette, 61st Fighter Squadron commander. “Every aspect of today’s operation was a multinational effort. It was a great example of how all the partner nations are cooperating to make this program a reality and shows how Luke AFB is becoming the international training hub for the F-35.”

The international partnerships were on further display as two U.S. student pilots took their first flight as well, one guided by a U.S. instructor pilot and the other by an Australian.

“It is great from an Australian partner perspective to be contributing to the outcome of training F-35 aircrew,” said Squadron Leader Nathan Draper, Australian Participant Maintenance Liaison Officer. “To see a USAF IP alongside an Aussie jet with an Italian partner getting his first flight is seeing the vision for the program come to fruition. It is a great day for the F-35 and a big milestone for our team.”

The pilots began the academic training phase on 21 September, which involved approximately 90 days of classroom and simulator instruction under the supervision of the 56th Training Squadron prior to them stepping to the jet.

“New pilots will be trained in an environment where they learn how to work seamlessly with other nations both from a practical standpoint and a tactical basis,” an Italian pilot said. “Future students coming through the course will be able to fly on many different tails, so it is a perfect integration.”

When the Italian pilots return home they will be equipped to help develop the training programs of their own air forces and will help pioneer the next generation of global F-35 pilots.

Source: F-35 Joint Program Office

First flight for Norwegian Lightning II

The first Royal Norwegian Air Force F-35A Lightning II took the sky for the first time on Tuesday 6 October from Forth Worth, Texas. The successful flight lasted 1 hour and 32 minutes and saw tests of engine and other critical aircraft functions. On the same day, Norway confirmed that it is still looking to buy 55 aircraft, despite reports of lacking funds.

At the controls was Lockheed Martin test pilot Bill Gigliotti, the very same pilot who recently flew the first European made F-35 in Italy. The aircraft to perform the first ‘Norwegian’ flight was in fact the second to be produced for Norway. The first plane was the star of a roll out ceremony in September, broadcasted live on Norwegian television.

The first two Norwegian F-35s will later this year move to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, for pilot training.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The Norwegian F-35 at the start of its first flight. (Image © Lockheed Martin)

Norway aiming for X-Mas Lightning

Norway is aiming to have its pilots flying the first two Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs just before Christmas 2015, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence confirmed. The aircraft, called AM-1 and AM-2, are planned to make their delivery flight from the production plant in Forth Worth in Texas to Luke Air Force Base in November 2015.

Front view of the first RNoAF F-35A (Image © Forsvaret)
RELATED POST: First Norwegian F-35 handed over

Together with a third and fourth aircraft to arrive in 2016, the two Royal Norwegian Air Force next-generation multi-role fighters will be part of the so-called “international pool” to train aviators and aircraft technicians.

Current RNoAF combat pilots flying the F-16 will go through conversion training on the new type in 2015 and 2016. From 2018 on forward Norway will have at least 6 trainees – aspirant-pilots that have never flown the F-16 or similar aircraft before – at Luke. At the same time the RNoAF will start decommissioning its facilities at Tuscon in Arizona, where Norwegian fighter jocks-to-be now go after basic training on Sheppard AFB.

Meanwhile Ørland Airbase near Trondheim in Norway is getting ready to accept the first F-35 in 2017, with a new simulator division and maintenance division. The first RNoAF Lightning II is planned to be operational in 2019, with all planned 52 F-35s reaching full operational capability by 2025.

How the flight line of RNoAF F-35s will look. For now these USAF Lightning IIs make a nice bunch (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)
How the flight line of RNoAF F-35s will look. For now these USAF Lightning IIs make a nice bunch (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)
F-35 rolling (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)
F-35 rolling (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)
The future "habitat" of first quartet of RNoAF F-35s: Luke AFB as photographed on 23 September 2014 (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)
The future “habitat” of first quartet of RNoAF F-35s: Luke AFB as photographed on 23 September 2014 (Image © Torgeir Haugaard / Forsvarets mediesenter)

While Ørland will be the F-35s only Main Base, Norway will fly its Quick Reaction Alert on NATO northern flank with F-35s based at Evenes on a rotating basis. Until 2021 F-16s will fly the mission from Bodø – initially on a rotating basis with the F-35s until the QRA task will be fully transfered to the new stealthy jet ahead of full decommissioning of the Fighting Falcon.

Source: Forsvaret
Featured image: The F-35 is the future RNoAF fighter jet (Image © USAF / Forsvaret)