The F-35A has just begun training flights at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The event was celebrated with a tower flyby which resulted in some awesome shots of the jet against Ogden’s high terrain in the background.
Although the pictures are cool, the quality of training the F-35 can provide at this level of its development remains questionable. In fact, training flights with the aircraft, which is still deep in testing, will be all the Air Force’s expanding fleet of F-35As are able to do for the foreseeable future as many of its capabilities are yet to be delivered.
This whole buy it as you test it concept, known as concurrency, has dogged the F-35 program over the last decade. Now, with close to 150 F-35s built, with none of them actually combat capable, airframe hours will be spent training on a non-combat representative weapons system that still remains largely under construction.
It won’t be until sometime in 2017 that the USAF will hopefully declare the F-35A operational. That is if everything goes perfectly as planned, and this date is still highly controversial as it doesn’t mark a developmental milestone that even the USAF’s top brass would define as actual combat capability for the jet.
Still, at least we can enjoy some cool photos for the many billions of tax dollars already sunk into this questionable program.
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Photos via USAF