ORLANDO, Fla. — Keeping pace with the worldwide rollout of the F-35, nations flying the fifth-generation joint strike fighter will soon be receiving state-of-the-art simulators to train their pilots and maintainers, a representative of the aircraft’s manufacturer Lockheed Martin said Nov. 28.
There are five training centers in the United States currently, but that will rapidly expand, said David Scott, vice president of business development at Lockheed Martin’s training and logistics solutions division. “Within just a few years, we are going to see over 20 training facilities operating worldwide, which corresponds with the delivery of the F-35 that are occurring to a number of nations,” he told reporters at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference sponsored by the National Training and Simulation Association. NTSA is an affiliate of the National Defense Industrial Association.
Training is in progress for 10 military services, which includes the three U.S. services flying the aircraft, five partner nations including Australia, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, plus two foreign military sales customers: Japan and Israel.
More than 520 pilots and about 5,000 maintainers have been trained so far, he said. The program reached a milestone when it recently graduated classes of U.S. Marine Corps and Air Force pilots who have never flown a fighter aircraft. The first batches of trainees were drawn from pools of pilots already certified to fly other aircraft. That is a “watershed event” because the F-35 is a single-seater so the first time a trainee flies the joint strike fighter he or she is on their own, Scott said.
Since the F-35 receives software upgrades as part of its development, the trainers must keep up. They will receive the 3F software packages in two tranches in 2018 to coincide with the upgrades to the actual aircraft, he noted.
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