Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Wing struggles to train pilots

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- One of the busiest F-35 training units is hoping the Air Force can relieve some of the pressures of training student pilots. The 33rd Fighter Wing, leading training wing for F-35 student pilots, hopes to receive additional F-35A fighters, along with considerable upgrades to its existing fleet, to keep up with training demands. Col. Paul Moga, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, told the unit has found smarter ways inside the existing structure of the 33rd to get more quality sorties into the curriculum despite limitations. "We're the first Air Force wing to start doing what we call 'hot swaps,'" Moga said, referring to different student/instructor pairs swapping out for back-to-back flights in a single aircraft to save time and execute more sorties. But lately it's not enough. The 33rd has 25 F-35As and the Navy, which also has a presence on the base and sends pilots through the training pipeline here, has 8 F-35Cs. The wing is authorized to have 59 aircraft. The fifth-generation stealth plane arrived in 2011 and made the 33rd Fighter Wing the first U.S. F-35 training unit. The first class of student pilots started training in 2013. The planes, part of the first low rate initial production batch, need additional work. (Source:, 05/07/18)