Schoolhouse Prerequisites

Air Force evaluators began the final certification process for full-up F-35A training at Eglin AFB, Fla. A cadre of four pilots on Sept. 10 commenced the operational utility evaluation, which is dry run of every facet of Eglin’s F-35 training pipeline. “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, who oversees Eglin’s joint F-35 schoolhouse. Training officials at Eglin originally intended to launch the OUE last October and begin training operational F-35 pilots this past January. Instead, Air Force officials didn’t clear the F-35A to begin flight operations at Eglin until the end of February, bumping the OUE back. Following the 65-day OUE, “we should receive the Air Education and Training Command’s approval that states we are ‘ready for training,'” added Toth. (Eglin report by Chrissy Cuttita)