Stand-in Stealth

The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., last week received four F-16 fighters from the 56th FW at Luke AFB, Ariz., that it will use help prepare for operating F-35 strike fighters as part of Eglin’s new F-35 schoolhouse. “Bringing an airplane in here is huge step,” said Col. James Ravella, commander of Eglin’s 33rd Operations Group. He added, “Everybody who operates on this base will benefit from an airplane taxiing out of here.” The 33rd FW hasn’t operated aircraft on a regular basis since the departure of its last combat-ready F-15s in September 2009 and its transition to the F-35 training mission. Eglin’s initial cadre of F-35 instructor pilots from the Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy will fly the F-16s for about one year. About 50 Luke maintainers will stay at Eglin to work on the F-16s. (Eglin report by Ashley M. Wright)