Another Step Forward in the IOC for the F-35B: The USMC Tests its Sortie Generation Capabilities


2013-12-13 In a phone interview with Lt. Col. Berke, the Commanding Officer, VMFAT-501, the continued progress of the F-35B towards its initial operating capability or IOC in 2015 was underscored.

Recently, the 33rd Fighter Wing, highlighted a four hour sortie generation training exercise.

According to the 33rd FW the F-35 enterprise had a good day on December 4, 2013.

The joint-program reached a new single-day record for F-35 sorties Dec. 4 with 45 training missions between all three models of the aircraft. 

The Marine B-model completed 32 of the flights, the Air Force A-model had 10 flights and the Navy C-model flew three missions.

What might be lost in all of this is the central significance for the USMC effort, in which the B (including the UK) completed 32 flights within four hours.

The planes operated in a cycle of 10-10-10 hot pit operations for the USMC to complete 30 flights within a 4-hour sortie.

According to Berke this underscored that “we are making the requisite progress towards a 2015 IOC for the USMC aircraft.”

Berke highlighted that the event underscored several developments.

First, the event validated and demonstrated the readiness improvements and milestones, which the USMC is working towards.

Second, the event showed the reliability, which the squadron is seeing out of the jet.  Shortly after landing 9 of the 10 jets were in an up status and the squadron went back the next day to a normal 12 flight operation.

Third, “we were able to pressurize the system from and operational and maintenance standpoint to conduct surge ops for varying mission sets.”

Fourth, the decision to launch the 10-plane surge came only 36 hours prior do doing the event.  And this effort “demonstrated the increase in productivity and efficiency we are seeing with the jet.”

Fifth, “we were able to conduct all of the minor tasks associated with every mission in the F-35B training system to include STOVL training.”

And finally, the teamwork of the key players in the program was demonstrated as well by the event.

“The relationship between VMFAT-501, Lockheed Martin maintenance support and the 96th Test Wing who provided six trucks for hot pit operations worked very effectively in support of the 4 hour surge operation.”

In short, this was not just a normal training day, but placed down a marker for the progress of the USMC towards their IOC goals.

The photos below show the USMC and UK F-35Bs flying in joint training.

[slidepress gallery=’eglin-f-35s-in-all-three-variants-fly-joint-training-sorties’]

 (Courtesy photo/Andy Poulastides)