100 F-35A Training Sorties

The F-35A training program at Luke AFB, Ariz., hit the century mark this week, completing the 100th sortie of an Air Force Lightning II. The benchmark sortie was flown on Aug. 26 by the 62st Fighter Squadron, which is part of the 56th Fighter Wing, the primary F-16 Fighting Falcon training unit. “Flying the 100th F-35A sortie at Luke is a tremendous accomplishment,” Maj. William Andreotta, 61st FS chief of standardization and evaluations, said in an Air Education and Training Command release. “It is also a tribute to all the hard work and dedication put forth by the men and women of the 61st FS and the 61st Maintenance Group,” Andreotta said. “With every new weapon system comes a learning curve, and our maintenance team has done an exceptional job maximizing the balance between training opportunities and keeping pace with flying operations,” said Lt. Col. Benjamin Smith, 56th Maintenance Group deputy commander. The 61st FS now has seven F-35As, on its way to an expected 144 Lightning IIs. “Every day we fly, we are paving the way for a new era at Luke,” Andreotta said.