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First F-35A JSF Arrives at Eglin AFB

by John Reed on July 15, 2011

First F-35A Arrives at Eglin AFB
Going into what appears to so far be a mercifully cool (high-70s) Friday afternoon here in Washington, I had to point out this piece of historic news:

Just yesterday the Air Force received its first production model F-35 Lightinng II Joint Strike Fighter to fly in a non-testing role. This move marks the beginning of the large scale recapitalization of the United States’ tactical fighter fleet with stealth aircraft (if all goes according to plan, anyway).

(Technically the service has recieved two other production model F-35s, but they are being used in the JSF test program.)

Yes, the program is still not free of its fiscal issues and has its share of doubters, but still, the Pentagon is all in on the F-35.

Here are some exerpts from a Lockheed announcement on the first F-35 being delivered to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida:

The first Lockheed Martin production model F-35 Lightning II to be assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing arrived here today at 1:18 p.m. CDT after its more than 90-minute flight from Fort Worth, Texas. The aircraft, known as AF-9, will be used for activities in concert with training F-35 pilots and maintainers who begin coursework at the base’s new F-35 Integrated Training Center this fall.

AF-9 is a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) version of the 5th generation stealth fighter. Overall, the jet is the third production-model F-35 delivered to the U.S. Air Force, with the first two assigned to Edwards AFB, Calif.

AF-9 is the first aircraft delivered from Low Rate Initial Production lot two and the seventh F-35 delivered in program history to the Air Force. Over the lifetime of the program, a total of 59 F-35s will compose the fighter fleet at Eglin AFB.



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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Chops July 15, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Fantastic–now let's get the rest of the fleet up and see what these babies can do.I certainly hope they were worth the wait and cost but it's a done deal so –hooray


Asian Immigrant July 18, 2011 at 12:50 am

I'd certainty like to see the F-35s up in the sky protecting America while proving their value!


Jason July 15, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Congrats guys, only 2,400 to go! She is a beauty. Though, not as sexy as a F-22!


Chops July 15, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Not as sexy or as capable [supposedly] as the F22–but the F22 looks like a done deal also—that is a crime.


Jason July 15, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Do you think Panetta is Gates 2.0, or do you think he will make top-line decisions? Referring to the F-22 getting started back up, or are they just going to replace 90% of the planes with 35's? Personally, I think it was a wise choice to go with the 35 plan. Especially with the current economic times. Though, even when the economy turns around, it seems like UCAV's will join the 35's in future combat senaros. i.e. X-47. And F-35/X-47 would be a sweet combo for the USN.


ew-3 July 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Panetta is one of the ultimate political survivor types of the past few decades. Under the current administration, he'll do what the boss says, and if there is a new administration in the next election, he'll do what the boss says.

Having said all this bad stuff about him, I have to say that he has exceeded my expectations at the CIA. He actually seems to have had some chops there.


Chops July 15, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Watch your grammar—haha

ziv July 15, 2011 at 6:44 pm

This is off-topic, but would it be worthwhile to assign 2 F35's, (or better yet, 2 F22's had we built enough), to an F15E wing, or a F16 wing? Can you imagine what the wing commanders could do to protect his squadrons or to make a strike more effective if he had a pair of stealth lead aircraft to send info back to the strike element itself without the opposition knowing about it, or if they had a couple stealth aircraft to cover their egress? It seems like the combination of AWACs in the rear and an F35 in front would let a strike squadron really add to their bag of tricks. Obviously, a strike squadron of F35's would be better when we get them, but until then, it seems like an element of F35's would be useful for an F15E wing, and a couple F22's would be even better.


ew-3 July 15, 2011 at 11:40 pm

Your idea is fine, and I'd be surprised it is not already in the USAF's play book.
It offers a more complicated problem for our enemies.


blight July 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Very much a datalink question if you want to pass lots of information to and from stealth aircraft and legacy aircraft.

If we wanted to emphasize a small aircraft's avionics capability to act as a aerial pathfinder, might it be a better idea to have a two-seater?


Chops July 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm

While having the F35 or F22 escort and provide cover for the F16s and F15Es is a good idea-both of those planes have a substantial anti missile defense capability and a great air to air combat capability–it might be putting the top line, hard to come by, very expensive aircraft in jeopardy for no reason.


Tim July 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Is it just me or this "production" version of the F-35 looks pretty sharp -strangely beautiful at this angle- for some reasons?


@E_L_P July 16, 2011 at 1:14 am

"Just yesterday the Air Force received its first production model F-35 Lightinng II Joint Strike Fighter to fly in a non-testing role. "

Poor choice of words. These very aircraft will be used in a "testing" role. Not one weapon drop has been cleared, the full flight envelop has not been done, there will still be mountains of software to get qualified, and retesting with each software mod or break-fix discovery.

Try not to over hype the event. Plus what is being delivered, will not be able to stand up to emerging threats and is too expensive to use for existing threats.


saberhagen July 17, 2011 at 11:00 pm

why its ok for you guys to hype the 'problem' of the program but we cannot do the same for the 'non-problem' event? Anyway, its way so much fun to see those F-35-haters like you guys get tinier and tinier


Guest A July 18, 2011 at 8:03 am

"The aircraft, known as AF-9, will be used for activities in concert with training F-35 pilots and maintainers who begin coursework at the base’s new F-35 Integrated Training Center this fall."

LRIP planes are for training, EMD planes are for testing.


John Moore July 16, 2011 at 3:34 pm

What are the white things in the back ground of the pix please and tx?


Guest A July 18, 2011 at 8:04 am

That's where they park the planes on the flightline.


nonito cabato July 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm

idiocy, u.s politician are nuts imagine they use the money to buy fighter for Israel but cannot afford to buy fighter for its air force & they want scrap the F-35 & F-22! STUPID IDIOT NUTS SHITS


Michael Arnold July 17, 2011 at 11:58 am

Yes the f35 is a beastly model, with simular technology as the f22 raptor. She will do well in the field


MarineOne July 18, 2011 at 7:25 am

We all know they way the goverment works is "it's not broke but we're going to try and fix it anyways." Although we all know the 35 is gonna be better than the 22 anyways.


black avenger July 18, 2011 at 8:44 am

If the F35 is not as fast as the 22, nor as stealthy, nor as agile, nor as pilot friendly, has bad cockpit visibility (view) of the outside, is single engined (no redundancy) and has no record of doing anything except fizzling out in tests and only be made in small numbers, then why are we building this freaky thing anyways? Maybe we need more P51's for support. Sheesh, why dont we just surrender to the moslems and commies and dissolve the nation like our president wants us to do. Then we will be 3rd world socialist sewer.


Skysoldier173 July 18, 2011 at 12:39 pm

The model here is the Air Force one? Wow, how fast can they build them?


BILL D July 15, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Now Now Cam—you mustn't get crazy and tell the truth about our Isreali allies-shame on you—-SARCASM


Belesari July 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I know right how DARE we support the most democratic government in the middleast.

I mean why are we for jews? Arabs still practice, clitoris mutilation, slavery, teach there kids to die so they can have better ratings, mass corruption, treat women like dogs!!!! They are great!!!

I mean jesus the jews even give gays equal rights and dont hang them or throw them off roof tops!!!! How could they!

Meanwhile the french sold stealth secrets they got (which led to the downing of one of our stealth fighters) and are the biggest industrial espionage, and between our allies in europe have probably given away or leaked more of our secrets than israel could or would in 10,000yrs…..

But hey they arent jews…..i forgot they are good aryan stock.

Dear god havnt we gotten over the BLAME THE JEWS!!!! meme? Its just been going for what 1,000yrs now?


BILL D July 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm

The Jewish people have the longest history of religious persecution in the world,and they have turned that into a great Democratic nation,no one can deny that.They have great minds and scholars to support their nation.I guess most of us, knowing that, are a bit disheartened by the fact that they have to at times steal US technology and pay off our politicians to get what they want.I know there are many American educated and foreign educated engineers qualified to devolop these technologies,but it takes time.We do not dislike Isreal,we are concerned with the way they go about getting their needs at our expense.This is [in my humble opinion] what upsets the US citizens.


DennisBuller July 15, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Relax Belesari,
We think much less of the cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys than the Israelis.
But it is a bit annoying when we drop billions on them, just to find someone working for them looking through the pentagons underwear drawer.


DennisBuller July 15, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Relax Belesari,
We dislike the cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys much more than the Israels.
It is a just a bit annoying giving billions away and then finding someone who works for them looking through the Pentagons underwear drawer


blight July 16, 2011 at 12:10 am

Jordan isn't much of a democracy, but they've yet to stab us in the back. Hell, they successfully balanced hating on Israel and keeping the Palis out of their territory for fifty years. Jordan made half-baked efforts to participate in the war of '49, then made a stupid error in invading in '67, and sat out Yom Kippur (which was /very/ good for the Israelis, who were pushed pretty much to the breaking point).

That and Turkey, which I guess is "Middle East" if you think about it.

Then again, our good friends in the ME aren't even democracies, and it doesn't hurt our ability to buy oil from them. I mean, do business with them.


BILL D July 15, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Addendum….this is after over 700billion dollars in humanitarian and military aid since their inception as a nation state in 1948


stupiditiy July 15, 2011 at 11:01 pm

Ummmm. They are democratic as long as you're not a Palestinian living in their (occupied) land…


stupidity July 15, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Agreed! Are they truelove friends of anyone? Or just concerned about themselves….


ew-3 July 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm

you might want to study the way Palestinians were treated before Israel even existed. They were treated like trash by the the arabs in the area.


Joe Schmoe July 16, 2011 at 3:23 am

Just curious, what's your source for the 700 billion number?

Because the real number is around 100 billion if not less.


@Earlydawn July 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm



Belesari July 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Yea it is but EVERYONE does that to us. Its OK we are the US afterall.


crackedlenses July 16, 2011 at 2:14 pm
Rod July 17, 2011 at 5:25 am

I'm not a Historian, but didn't they discover the first camps in '44?


blight July 17, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Thought it was natural gas. It doesn't make quite the same money as oil, but guarantee's Israel a seat at the energy table /if it pans out/.

Or, the field runs up to Lebanon or down south to Egypt.


anon July 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm

even if that is true, it shouldn't be too difficult to create a communication pod that can be attached to the older aircraft to enable them to at least recieve and transmit voice communication.

However, enabling a datalink would probably be considerably harder, since the -15s and -16s weren't designed with the integrated computing architecture that the new stealth jets have.


ziv July 16, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Andrew, I think that you are right about F22's communicating directly to F15E's, but the stealth aircraft can communicate with the AWACs and the AWACs can relay the info to the strike package, or to the air superiority squadron.
I believe, but this isn't my line of work.
I am not sure if the AN/AXQ-14 is compatible with the stealth fighters but it is 2 way data link for weapons control… http://www.f-15e.info/joomla/weapons/data-link-po


brian July 18, 2011 at 2:08 pm

That's only true of the F22, the F35 doesn't have the same problem


Gregory Savage July 16, 2011 at 4:53 pm

That is an excuse for nothing. Just because the Arabs treated the Palestinians bad, doesn't give them the right to also. Palestinians on the other hand seem to rather kill their children then accept a Jewish state. All of the Arabs supporting the Palestinians now throw them in refugee camps in their native countries, that is if they even allow them in, so I understand your point. Maybe if the Jewish people took a position of strength and offered either more suitable terms by being the "bigger man," which they obviously are especially in terms of GDP, or offer more Palestinian/arab representation in their country since a true democratic nation supports all religions regardless of faith. If you have religious persecution then you are little better then the arabs them selves or the chinese, or any other group of people who do not let you practice freely what you want.

That's my big problem, the hypocrisy, they throw that democratic term in and its nonsense.


Gregory Savage July 16, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Thank you, we should be holding countries accountable. In my opinion, if you are caught doing that stuff, then we should counter by an equally embarrassing and painful way.


Belesari July 17, 2011 at 10:05 am

Greg that is a illogical way of thinking. First off this is the real world the Bigger Man stuff doesnt work that way. You get no brownie points for being the bigger man. You get betrayed and see your family rapped and murdered or maybe sold into slavery.

You can drive from one side of israel to the other in less than a day. They dont have the leeway to wait and see.

The problems arent religions but demographics. The Palestinians would come in in droves have 10 kids per family and ruin the damn country by the time they take over threw simple numbers and destroy what democracy would be left there would be a wasteland.

You can practice either Islam, christianity, or any religion you wish Judaism is the religion of the state it doesnt mean you cant practice yours.

This isnt south africa this is the middleast. This isnt about race but religion, tribe and hatreds older than the vatican.


blight July 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm

At a minimum, around August of '44 by Wikipedia's Auschwitz pictures.


blight July 18, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Ugh, health care is so vile. Look what it does to the German economy, totally in the tank and they produce such bad Benz cars that nobody wants them.


blight July 18, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Surrender monkeys isn't a racial slur, but I would still consider it a national insult, just like "frogs". Then again, all insults, national and racial have been used as excuses to kill people before, and should be treated with equal seriousness. But that's just me.


Praetorian July 18, 2011 at 8:59 pm

They are, the plan is to keep 177 F-15C's " Golden Eagles", and around 300 F-16's
until at least 2025.


blight July 19, 2011 at 11:44 pm

At least McCain is putting the Air Force's feet to the fire. Maybe the questions should be reserved for LM.

We might not be in this boat if we hadn't let our defense industry merge and consolidate to the point that all we have is Microsoft, Apple and Google; aka LockMart, NorthGrumm, and Boeing/McD.


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