There's Eglin in Florida for the F-35A and Yuma with the F-35B for the Marines. But not least on the list is the real star found with the F-35 program, Hill AFB Utah. What's the difference between the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland for the Navy and Hill AFB in Utah, and what's the deal about Hill and its F-35A's? First and foremost Patuxent is a formal training and testing center for domestic and foreign participants in the F-35 development program.
Here is the: Hill AFB F-35 military only score card below:
- 15 F-35's on location
- 12 F-35's ready for IOC
- 21 F-35 Pilots flying daily
- 488 F-35 sorties completed (probably higher @ posting).
- 220 F-35 Maintainers (cream of the crop handpicked personnel)
- 88 consecutive real time field sorties
- 15 out 16 field Bomb successes with one faulty bomb failure.
- Undefeated in air to air field combat tests.
What does this all mean? The F-35 is better than what nay sayers can muster against its viability as a superior air command fighter. The critics came from 2015 going against everything F-35. A Hill AFB pilot who since has come from Eglin in 2015 has stated,
"The plane I flew at Eglin is not even close to the ones I fly at Hill".
"The Hill aircraft are so much better, more prepared and functional matching up to its current potential, it would be unfair to compare it with the circa 2015 Eglin F-35" (paraphrased quotes).
Concurrency is demonstrated with the Hill maintenance model. There were several flaws discovered from testing concerning G-force fuel distribution limits and an inherent vulnerability from lighting strikes. Even though this is not all the flaws the F-35 has to overcome, it was a field test for its service members’ maintainers, testing if they could resolve problems on station going beyond its normal maintenance issues while using service maintainers for resolving F-35A upgrades.
The answer came quickly with this "A Team" of maintainers. They prepared twelve F-35's applying updates to the air frame and by solving the G-force fuel problem and then maintainers prepared the F-35 for lighting strikes, per maintenance bulletins (important IOC to-do list item) coming from the manufacturer, Lockheed Martin. Mission was accomplished and it also included computer software up-dates installed on the Hill F-35's for the first dozen fighters.
Concurrently, the Lockheed Martin production line is installing the Hill AFB proven modifications so that Hill's aircraft number 25 coming to the base maintainers will have all updates for those aforementioned issues it had successfully fixed on station with its first fifteen F-35's.
In June, six prepared F-35A's went to Mountain Home for a week fighting against adversarial F-16 and F-15's.
Those are the USAF premier multi-role fighters defending our nation today. The sad part of this exercise is that these fighter types were flying lost against the F-35 and could not obtain a kill unless a flying accident were even to occur.
The complainers find little solace in the Mountain Home exercise and they have not opine over the recent Red Flag exercise in Nevada which the F-35 recently participated in. Senator McCain has met his F-35 match and was shot down with his own words, The F-35 is "a scandal and tragedy". It’s more like tricky, slippery and once mastered, unfair to others trying to take it out.
In Utah, the F-35 stands up on the "Hill".