Hostage Agreement on F-35A IOC Date

The Air Force has long said that the head of Air Combat Command would determine F-35A initial operational capability when conditions were met. Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander, agrees with the forecast issued by Air Force headquarters on May 31 that IOC will be achieved in late 2016—as long as the then-head of ACC agrees, a command spokeswoman told the Daily Report on May 31. “Being able to project a realistic IOC date for the F-35A marks another step toward the maturation of this crucial asset,” said Hostage in a statement. He went on to say that “no significant amount of fourth generation capability will be able to survive the contested environments presented by our adversaries in the next decade” without a “sufficient quantity” of fifth generation aircraft. A spokeswoman for F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin said the company appreciates “the confidence in the F-35 program expressed” by the Air Force—as well as the Marine Corps and Navy—in declaring their projected IOC dates on May 31. “Our top priority is to continue to execute our plan to support these IOC dates” and the company is “committed to cost-effectively delivering the F-35’s unprecedented fifth generation capabilities to the warfighter,” she said.