F-35 Weapons Loading Training at Eglin AFB


2019-09-12 By Robbin Laird

During my visit to Eglin AFB, I had a chance to talk with Major Mike Byrd, USAF, a maintainer in the F-35 program about many aspects of the maintenance training process.  In this interview we focused upon the weapons loading training platform at Eglin.

Byrd: The F-35 trainers can work on the weapons training platform, rather than upon the planes itself.  This saves time, energy and cost.

The left side of the training mechanism is for training 2 variants of the F-35, the A and the C.  The right side is for the B.

For example, you can train loading the 2000-pound JDAM on the left and the 1000-pound JADM on the right.

This machine is an exact duplicate of the real plane.

This is exactly what the airplane’s going to look like; it has the same hookups, the same setups, and when they actually load this, it’s going to be just like they were out on the line doing it.

So when the maintainers go their first operational squadron, the familiarity they have with it from the machine goes with them. This is hands on training without utilizing an airplane.

Question: This machine was built in the UK?

Byrd: It was built by EDM in the UK.

Question: So as new weapons are developed for the F-35, the manufacturer can work with the trainers to update the software to use this loading machine?

Byrd:  That will be the way.  We will give the courseware team, the information and specs they need and they would then develop a courseware to make the training available.