Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Delay sought in F-35 flight training

The Air Force secretary and his chief of staff have been asked to decide what to do about a disagreement over when F-35 flight training should begin at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon's top official for weapons testing, thinks the fall target date should be delayed by 10 more months of development. But Lt. Gen. Thomas Owen, the general who oversees aircraft development for the Air Force, and Vice Adm. David Venlet, who overseeing the F-35 program, disagree and said changing plans would drive up the program's cost. It boils down to whether the kinks in the F-35 system have been worked out. Gilmore said the JSF team at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., racked up 1,000 hours in F-35As, but historically flight training didn't begin until 2,000 to 5,000 hours of monitored flight tests. Right now the F-35 experiences in-flight problems three times higher. (Sources: multiple, including Reuters, Wired, Time (Battleland), 10/31/11) Gulf Coast note: Six F-35s have been delivered to Eglin, where pilots of all variants of the F-35 will be trained.