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Major Milestone Reached For F-35 At Eglin

This week marked a major milestone for the F-35 at Eglin Air Force Base, as Air Force officials began Operational Utility Evaluation (OUE) for the aircraft, a big step toward beginning pilot and maintenance training for the service. The review should last approximately 65 days, and will involve two fighter pilots from the 33rd Fighter Wing.

From Eglin’s release:

“The start of the OUE is another huge milestone for the Air Force and the program as a whole,” said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd Fighter Wing commander. “We’ve been preparing for this event since the arrival of our first aircraft in July last year. So far, the men and women of the 33rd Fighter Wing have proven we can successfully execute safe and effective flying operations in addition to academic training.”

The report goes on to state:

Leaders at the 33rd FW are confident their team of Airmen, Navy, Marines, contracted partners and civilians are ready for the next milestone in the nation’s next half-century of airpower dominance.

“We are ready for the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center to give us an outside look on the way we conduct our mission,” said Toth. “At the conclusion of the evaluation we should receive the Air Education and Training Command’s approval that states we are ‘ready for training’.”

There have already been over 200 F-35 sorties at Eglin, which will eventually establish three squadrons for each branch of service and F-35 variant, and 59 aircraft as the joint strike fighter program continues.

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