Two pilots assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., earlier this month conducted the first F-35A operational flights from the desert base, announced unit officials. “It’s been a long time coming, and the level of effort by all those involved with getting to this point has been nothing short of astounding,” said Capt. Brad Matherne, 422nd TES F-35 division commander, in Nellis’ April 10 release. He was one of the two pilots who flew the inaugural flights on April 4. “Now we can get down to the business of what Nellis does best: the development of tactics,” added Matherne. The Air Force is constructing an F-35 simulator at Nellis to aid in developing and testing tactics, states the release. Nellis’ first F-35As arrived in early March. (Nellis report by SSgt. Michael Charles)
The Collaborative Combat Aircraft will be operational in the late 2020s, several years before the Next-Generation Air Dominance family of systems, Air Force officials told the House Armed Services tactical aviation panel. The CCAs will first be “shooters,” then electronic warfare platforms, then sensors, in that order, they added.