Tag: f-35

Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35s On Their Way To Germany To Support NATO In Eastern Europe

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Vermont Air National Guard’s F-35s On Their Way To Germany To Support NATO In Eastern Europe
Vermont F-35
A VT ANG F-35A prepares for take off to Spangdahlem AB, Germany, on May 2, 2022. Note the RCS enhancers fitted to the aircraft.

F-35A Lightning II fifth generation aircraft from the Vermont Air National Guard departed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

At least eight F-35A stealth aircraft, belonging to the 158th Fighter Wing of the U.S. Air Force are currently deploying to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to support Enhanced Air Policing mission on NATO’s Eastern Flank. The aircraft launched from their base at Burlington ANGB, Vermont, early on May 2, 2022.

Supported by at least four tankers, the “Green Mountain Boys” of the 158th FW are due replace the F-35A jets belonging to the 388th FW and 419th FW  from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, that have been operating out of Spangdahlem since Feb. 16, 2022. In the beginning, the VT ANG will not completely replace the Hill AFB’s F-35s but they will complement the Hill AFB F-35s as the Lightning II jets of the various active, ANG and Reserve’s jets are expected to operate together from the German base for some weeks.

The images of the F-35As launching from Burlington ANGB, show that the aircraft were fitted with their RCS Enhancers/Radar Reflectors/Luneburg Lenses (as per normal procedure for ferry flights). It will be interesting to understand whether they will operate in “stealth mode” (without radar reflectors/Luneburg lenses) during their patrols over Eastern Europe, as done by the Hill’s F-35s.

<img data-attachment-id="79506" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/05/02/vt-ang-f-35-to-spangdahlem/upcoming-april-f-35-night-flying-operations/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/VT-ANG-deploying-to-Spang-2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,572" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"5","credit":"158th Fighter Wing","camera":"NIKON D5","caption":"An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, prepares for launch during routine flying operations at the Vermont Air National Guard base, South Burlington, Vermont, Sept. 23, 2020. The Vermont Air National Guard will begin three weeks of night flying operations starting Tuesday, April 6, 2021. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jana Somero)","created_timestamp":"1600833600","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"70","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"5","title":"Upcoming April F-35 Night Flying Operations","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="Upcoming April F-35 Night Flying Operations" data-image-description data-image-caption="

File photo of an F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, prepares for launch during routine flying operations at the Vermont Air National Guard base, South Burlington, Vermont, (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jana Somero)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-5.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-2.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79506″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-2.jpg” alt=”Vermont F-35″ width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-5.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-6.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/vermont-air-national-guards-f-35s-on-their-way-to-germany-to-support-nato-in-eastern-europe-7.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/VT-ANG-deploying-to-Spang-2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

File photo of an F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, Vermont Air National Guard, prepares for launch during routine flying operations at the Vermont Air National Guard base, South Burlington, Vermont, (U.S. Air National Guard photo by A1C Jana Somero)

Airmen from the 158th FW started deploying to Europe aboard an Omni Air International B-767 on Apr. 29, 2022.

“We are proud to send our Airmen to support the collective defense of our allies and partners,” said Army Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, the adjutant general of Vermont in a public release. “This deployment demonstrates some of the strategic capabilities the Vermont Air National Guard can provide to the nation when needed.”

These regular deployments, part of a series of standard U.S. rotations in the European Area of Operations, are part of the U.S. commitment to training and interoperability with our European allies.

“Being called upon only four months out of conversion to an operational F-35 fighter wing is a testament to our team, their professionalism, commitment and proven capabilities,” said Air Force Col. David Shevchik, commander of the 158th Fighter Wing. “It is when we are needed most that we are at our best. The Green Mountain Boys are ready and proud to answer this call, and we’re grateful for the support of our families, employers and communities.”

The one to Europe amidst growing tensions with Russia following the invasion Ukraine, is the first Vermont Air National Guard deployment in 6 years. Previously, flying the F-16 “Viper” (as the aircraft is dubbed in the fighter pilots community) the Wing took part in several deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism. During 9/11, the Vermont Air National Guard rapidly mobilized to provide area security patrols over New York City, a mission they maintained for over 120 consecutive days. This short-term deployment is conducted in full coordination with host nations and NATO military authorities, and although temporary in nature, they are prudent measures to increase readiness and enhance NATOs collective defense during this period of uncertainty.

The 158th Fighter Wing ceased their F-16C/D Block 30 operations on Apr. 6, 2019, after flying the jet for 33 years. The first F-35A in 158th FW markings (AF17-5265) made its first flight from Lockheed Martin Ft. Worth facility, Texas, on Jul. 31, 2019. The first two ANG F-35A aircraft landed at their home in Burlington ANGB, Vermont, on Sept. 19, 2019.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

Italian Air Force F-35s Deploy To Iceland For Their Third NATO Icelandic Air Policing Mission

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Italian Air Force F-35s Deploy To Iceland For Their Third NATO Icelandic Air Policing Mission
F-35 Iceland
File photo of two Italian Air Force F-35A fighters during a previous NATO Air Policing mission in Iceland. (Photo: David Cenciotti)

Four F-35A jets will operate from Keflavik for two months.

Four F-35A Lighting II aircraft of the Italian Air Force arrived in Keflavik, Iceland, on April 25, 2022, for a new contribution to NATO’s Interim Air Policing mission “Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs (ASIC-IPPN)”, more commonly known as Icelandic Air Policing. This is the third time Italy deploys its F-35s in Iceland, alternating their presence with the Norwegian ones, and the seventh Italian participation to the NATO mission overall.

The Italian detachment will operate from Keflavik for two months, thanks to more than 130 women and men of the Aeronautica Militare, including pilots, ground crew, support and force protection personnel that accompany the jets. According to the Reykjavik Grapevine, the F-35s will also perform exercises at Akureyri and Egilsstaðir airports from April 26 to May 6, 2022.

While in Quick Reaction Alert duty, the authority over interceptor aircraft will rest with NATO’s Allied Air Command, while the Northern Combined Air Operations Centre at Uedem, Germany, will tactically control detachment operations and tie them into the Alliance’s collective security arrangements. The Italian F-35s will replace the detachment of Portuguese F-16s that provided interceptor capabilities during their two-month deployment which ended on March 31.

“After being the first Ally to deploy fifth generation fighters on a NATO mission abroad, Italy demonstrates a sustained capability to provide modern fighter aircraft to Alliance operations,” said Colonel Gianmarco Di Loreto, Commander of the Italian F-35A Task Force Air in Iceland. Our F-35A aircraft have already gained considerable international experience by participating in NATO’s Air Policing missions in Iceland, but also Estonia. Staffs have also executed the national QRA duty from their home base and will continue to train crews to protect national and Alliance skies,” added  Colonel Di Loreto.

According to the Icelandic Coast Guard leadership, “the ongoing NATO operation in Iceland is specific and unique. Given its geographical location, Allies, in conjunction with the Icelandic authorities, have agreed that the appropriate arrangement to help keeping Icelandic airspace safe and secure is to maintain a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft based at NATO Keflavik Air Base.” The focus of the scheduled “peacetime preparedness mission” is to carry out routine flying training and exercises for the Alliance to meet Iceland’s requirements and needs to stay prepared, to monitor and to manage its airspace in peacetime.

<img data-attachment-id="79475" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/27/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission/f-35_third_iceland_deployment_2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/F-35_Third_Iceland_Deployment_2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,576" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="F-35_Third_Iceland_Deployment_2" data-image-description data-image-caption="

An Italian F-35 in Quick Reaction Alert. Notice the AIM-120 in weapon bay. (Photo: Italian Air Force)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-5.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-2.jpg” class=”size-large wp-image-79475″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-2.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”397″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-5.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-6.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-7.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/italian-air-force-f-35s-deploy-to-iceland-for-their-third-nato-icelandic-air-policing-mission-8.jpg 678w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/F-35_Third_Iceland_Deployment_2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

An Italian F-35 in Quick Reaction Alert. Notice the AIM-120 in weapon bay. (Photo: Italian Air Force)

The F-35s, belonging to the 13° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 32° Stormo (Wing), departed from their homebase at Amendola Air Base, in the morning on April 25, before meeting two KC-767 tankers over Northern Italy for a first air-to-air refueling. Flight tracking websites showed that one of the tankers returned home after topping off the fighters, while the second one accompanied them all the way to Iceland before returning back.

The Italian F-35s will carry out the QRA service in Iceland with the same configuration used to support the domestic SSSA (Servizio Sorveglianza Spazio Aereo – Air Space Surveillance Service) on a rotational basis, where the SCL (Standard Conventional Load) includes two AIM-120C5 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) missiles in the internal weapons bay. The Italian jets fly in this “lighter” configuration, compared to Norwegian ones, as they don’t have a short-range air-to-air missile, but this will change soon as AIM-9X Sidewinder AAMs (Air-to-Air Missiles) have been ordered by the Italian Air Force.

As we mentioned earlier, this is the third deployment of Italian fifth generation fighters to Iceland after 2019 and 2020. Before that, Italy supported the mission with the Eurofighter Typhoon fighters to safeguard the airspace above the Ally in the High North in 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

About Stefano D’Urso
Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.

493rd and 495th Fighter Squadrons Have Received Their Flagship F-35A Aircraft

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493rd and 495th Fighter Squadrons Have Received Their Flagship F-35A Aircraft
F-35 flagships
The flagships of the 493rd and 495th Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath. (All images: Martin Fox)

The commanders’ jets are the latest additions to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath.

At around 18.00LT on Friday Apr. 15, 2022, two F-35A aircraft, both sporting the squadron commander markings for the 493rd Fighter Squadron ‘Reapers’ and 495th Fighter Squadron ‘Valkyries’ landed at RAF Lakenheath, UK. The two aircraft in question, coming from Lockheed Martin’s facility in Fort Worth, Texas, where they were spotted during the test flights preceding the delivery are the airframes 19-5493 and 19-5495.

According to our contributor Martin Fox, who was at the base home of the 48th Fighter Wing, and took the photographs of the aircraft as they arrived at their new airfield, these jets had tried to make the transatlantic crossing for at least two weeks but had suffered delays caused by tanker issues and unfavourable weather over the Atlantic. For the ferry flight, the new flagship aircraft were supported by KC-135R, serial 62-3502, belonging to the 22nd ARW (Air Refueling Wing), from McConnell Air Force Base, Texas, which also arrived at RAF Lakenheath as RAF Mildenhall was closed for Good Friday holiday. Unfortunately for the tanker crew, after the long crossing, the Stratotanker had to hold for around an hour before landing as the runways cables needed to be de-rigged once the fighters had safely landed.

<img data-attachment-id="79444" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/19/493-and-495fs-flagships/493fs-flagship-top/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493FS-flagship-top.jpg" data-orig-size="1280,816" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="493FS flagship top" data-image-description data-image-caption="

The “Grim Reapers” flagship

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-6.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-2.jpg” class=”size-large wp-image-79444″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-2.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”450″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-6.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-7.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-8.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493FS-flagship-top.jpg 1280w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

The “Grim Reapers” flagship

As we have already explained in a previous post, the “Grim Reapers” will become the second Europe-based U.S. F-35 squadron, following their colleagues of the 495th FS “Valkyries”, which received the first F-35s in December 2021. This way, RAF Lakenheath will have two F-15E Strike Eagle squadrons, the 492nd FS “Bolars” and the 494th FS “Panthers”, and two F-35A squadrons, the 493rd FS “Grim Reapers” and the 495th FS “Valkyries”. Each squadron will operate with at least two dozen F-35s.

The flagship aircraft of the 493rd FS, with serial 19-5493/AF-321, will probably operate with the 495th until the Reapers start to re-equip with the F-35A in the future. The “Grim Reapers” were the last to fly the “legacy” Eagles in Europe after more than 45 years of F-15A/B/C/D Eagle operations in the Old Continent. They completed their NATO enhanced Air Policing mission at Łask Air Base, Poland, on Feb. 28, 2022.

<img data-attachment-id="79445" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/19/493-and-495fs-flagships/495fs-flagship/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/495FS-flagship.jpg" data-orig-size="1280,804" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="495FS flagship" data-image-description data-image-caption="

The flagship of the 495th FS “Valkyries”.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-9.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-3.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79445″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-3.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”443″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-3.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-9.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-10.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/493rd-and-495th-fighter-squadrons-have-received-their-flagship-f-35a-aircraft-11.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/495FS-flagship.jpg 1280w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

The flagship of the 495th FS “Valkyries”.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

USAF F-117 Integrated With U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Involved In ‘Lightning Carrier’ Concept Demo

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USAF F-117 Integrated With U.S
An F-35B Lightning II airplane connected to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron(VMFA

)122 and also an F-117 Nighthawk fly over aquatic attack ship USS Tripoli(LHA 7), Apr. 5.( U.S. Navy image by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Theodore Quintana)During”Lightning Carrier” Concept Demonstration, aquatic attack ship USS Tripoli ran with a document 20 F-35Bs. The U.S. Marine Corps packed a tremendous 20 F-35B aboard the USS Tripoli (LHA-7)as component of the”Lightning service provider”principle demo recently. The objective of the demonstration was to reveal Tripoli as well as various other aquatic attack ships ‘capability to run as committed fixed-wing provider systems, with the ability of bringing 5th generation Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing airplane any place they are needed. The 5th generation airplane that participated in the”Lightning Carrier” came from 2 functional armadas: 16x F-35Bs were from the” Vikings “of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 and also the”Wake Island Avengers”of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211(that participated in the joint release with the RAF 617 Sqn aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2014, both based at Yuma Marine Corps Air Station, Arizona; 4x were from Marine Operational Test as well as Evaluation Squadron 1, based at Yuma as well as New River, N.C. The airplane were associated with numerous launches as well as healings checking the capacity of the aquatic attack ship to maintain a rise of sorties however the one-week trial concentrated additionally on the treatments for relocating, functioning as well as steering on the

F-35B jets aboard the ship. Based upon the images launched throughout as well as after the demonstration, majority the Lightnings(11 out of 20 F-35Bs), were not bring radar reflectors/luneburg lenses, suggesting that they ran in”stealth setting”( although some had some strange arrangements ): The

absence of RCS boosters+ synchronised visibility of the exterior rail launchers is perhaps a lot more intriguing. I do not believe I’ve ever before seen this arrangement. I’m not certain of the RCS charge generated by the pylons with rail launchers.– David Cenciotti(@cencio4)April

. An F-35B Lightning II airplane connected to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron(VMFA)122 as well as an F-117 Nighthawk fly over aquatic attack ship USS Tripoli(LHA 7), Apr. 5.(U.S. Navy image by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Theodore Quintana )No various other information concerning the assimilation goal however it’s worth keeping in mind that the legendary stealth jets have actually have joined the USMC Lightning IIs, performing DACT(Dissimilar Air Combat Training) with the F-35Bs of the Marine competitor Attack Squadron(VMFA)225″Vikings” of Marine Aircraft Group(MAG )13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, U.S. Marine Corps, released to MCAS Miramar from MCAS Yuma, in February this year. On Apr. 5, the F-117 was likewise identified over Los Angeles possibly on its means back to Tonopah Test Range sustained by a vessel. Discuss a #AvGeek Identifying!!! Heres a #USAF KC-135 vessel c/s COPPER04 HEAVY w/ a #USAF #F 117NightHawk #StealthFighter in tow.

(yes the” retired “ones )overlooking today on a goal to the south of #LosAngeles #StealthFighter #F 117 04-05-22 pic.twitter.com/zuD7kYCuUm– Matt Hartman (@ShorealoneFilms)April 5, 2022 As described in numerous write-ups, while several of the F-117s that were retired in 2008 and also originally maintained in a”Type 1000 “storage space at Tonopah Test Range have actually currently been dismantled as well as moved to galleries around the U.S., F-117s have actually remained to fly over Nevada and also California. We have actually reported discoveries in 2018, in 2019 as well as likewise 2020.

The F-117s are not entirely retired, rather the contrary. Since January 2021, the U.S. Air Force had 48 F-117s staying in its stock. The solution is getting rid of about 4 airplane yearly, indicating that concerning 44 needs to be still readily available. In addition to flying the foe stealth function taking likewise component in Red Flag goals or releasing to airbases throughout the U.S. as reported, the Nighthawks are most likely additionally sustaining the advancement and also screening of stealth or counter-stealth innovations and also methods, as some photos revealing a minimum of one airframe showing off a mirror-like finishing comparable to the one related to 2 F-22s(one that has shown up rather just recently) as well as to an F-35 appears to recommend. NIGHT01(F-117A)from Tonopah identified near Edwards AFB inside the R-2508 facility putting on a chrome coating, March 2022. © Scott Mantegani pic.twitter.com/xhtTqAKnLl– Aircraft Spots(@AircraftSpots) April 4, 2022 Back to the Lightning Carrier,”The principle takes a web page from background”claims Gidget Fuentes on a record released by

USNI News.”In the intrusion of Iraq in March 2003, aquatic attack ship USS Bataan(LHD-5 )and also USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6)were called the”Harrier service providers,”each sustaining 2 armadas of AV-8B Harrier assault jetsfor Commander Task Force 51 as U.S. as well as mixed pressures pressed towards Baghdad. The ships at thetime generally had a detachment of Harriers amongst an airplane mix made up greatly of Marine Corps helicopters.”< img data-attachment-id =" 79291"data-permalink ="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/09/f-117-f-35b-uss-tripoli/uss-tripoli-and-marine-aircraft-group-13-demonstrate-lightning-carrier-concept/"data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/F-117-F-35B-3.jpg"data-orig-size="1024,411"data-comments-opened="0"data-image-meta="hes-back-the-elusive-f-117-stealth-jets-makes-another-appearance-over-star-wars-canyon"data-image-title ="USS Tripoli as well as Marine Aircraft Group 13 show Lightning Carrier Concept "data-image-description data-image-caption="Amphibious attack ship USS Tripoli

(LHA-7), leaves Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., April

7, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps picture by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)”data-medium-file=” https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-9.jpg”data-large-file =” https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-3.jpg”loading =”careless”course= “size-large wp-image-79291″src =”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-3.jpg” alt size =”706″elevation=”283 “srcset=”

https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-3.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-9.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-10.jpg 128w,”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/usaf-f-117-integrated-with-u-s-marine-corps-f-35b-involved-in-lightning-carrier-concept-demo-11.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/F-117-F-35B-3.jpg 1024w”dimensions =”(max-width: 706px)100vw, 706px”> Amphibious attack ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7 ), leaves Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., April 7, 2022.(U.S. Marine Corps image by Sgt. Samuel Ruiz)In 2016, an event of 12 F-35B became part of a joint United States Navy (USN)/ United States Marine Corps(USMC)”Proof of Concept”demo aboard USS America resisted the coastline of Southern California. When contrasted to a Nimitz course flattop, the PoC examined the capacity of the America course to run even more than a lots F-35s from its trip deck which is a lot smaller sized. In 2019,”13 F-35B Lightning II airplane with VMFA-122 arrived on the aquatic attack ship USS America( LHA-6)”in the Pacific sea. One of the most current Lightning Carrier trial established the”max”ability at 20. The USS Tripoli(“LHA-7″)”, went back to port at Naval Air Station North Island, California, on Apr. 7, 2022. United States Navy aquatic attack ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7)goes back to Naval Air Station North Island, California on April 7. It sustained the procedure of 20 United States Marines F-35B for Lightning provider principle presentation which revealed that it can run as devoted fixed-wing systems.

pic.twitter.com/mIryL2I4F3– Ryan Chan 陳家翹(@ryankakiuchan)April 8, 2022 About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is an independent reporter based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder as well as Editor of” The Aviationist”, among the globe’s most well-known and also check out armed forces aeronautics blog sites. Given that 1996, he has actually created for significant around the world publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and also several others, covering aeronautics, protection, battle, market, criminal activity, cyberwar and also knowledge. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia as well as Syria, and also flown numerous fight airplanes with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a personal pilot as well as a grad in Computer Engineering. He has actually created 5 publications as well as added to much more ones.

F-35A Destined To 6 ° Stormo Of The Italian Air Force Has Made Its Maiden Flight

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F-35A Destined To 6 ° Stormo Of The Italian Air Force Has Made Its Maiden Flight
F-35 6° Stormo
The first F-35A very first to predestined 6 ° Stormo during its throughout flight initial Apr. 7, 2022.(Image credit score: Alessandro Maggia)The Lockheed Martin F-35A”6-01″is the very first stealth airplane predestined to 2nd Wing of the Italian Air Force that will certainly run the Lightning II: the 6 ° Stormo( Wing ). The F-35A MM7366/6 -01 (AL-16), the really initial to sporting activity the markings of the 6º Stormo, the 2nd Wing of the Aeronautica Militare(Italian Air Force), predestined to obtain the Lightning II stealth airplane,

made its very first trip from the Final Assembly and also Check Out(FACO)center at Cameri, in northwestern Italy, in the mid-day on Apr. 7, 2022. The Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II will progressively change the Tornado IDS fleet that this year commemorates 40 years of Italian Air Force solution. The strategy has actually not been made main yet, according to the reports, at first, the F-35s of the “Diavoli Rossi” (Red Devils) of the 6 ° Stormo, will certainly run from Amendola Air Base, in southeastern Europe, residence of the 32 ° Stormo as well as its youngster device, the 13 ° Gruppo, the very first Italian armada to run the Lightning II (both the f-35b and also the f-35a version), the very first F-35 device in Europe to attain IOC (Initial Operational Capability) in 2018, the initial to release the jet under NATO command.

Another photo of MM7366/6 -01 throughout its first trip(Image credit report: Oscar Bernardi )At a later phase, the F-35s will certainly run from Ghedi Air Base, situated near Brescia, in north Italy, house of the 6 ° Stormo, as well as its 3 armadas: the 102º Gruppo [that is the Tornado OCU (Operational Conversion Unit)

] and also the 154º Gruppo, geared up with the Tornado IDS, and also 155º Gruppo geared up with the Tornado ECR. Throughout the historical initial trip, the MM7366/6 -01, with the particular Red Devil symbol of the Stormo on its tail, was accompanied by a solitary seater Eurofighter Typhoon showing off the markings of the 36 ° Stormo. This F-2000A flew as chase to the F-35A.(Image credit score: Oscar Bernardi)A Tornado ECR of the 155 ° Gruppo of the 6 ° Stormo, an additional armada predestined to get the F-35A in the future to perform the SEAD(Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses)/ DEAD(Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses )objective likewise performed a reduced pass at Cameri. The Tornado ECR on method to Cameri on Apr. 7, 2022.(Image credit report: Oscar Bernardi)We have actually lately participated in a goal aboard a Tornado ECR of the 155 ° Gruppo that entailed additionally 2 F-35As of the 32 ° Stormo and also a Tornado IDS of the 154 ° Gruppo: we will certainly release a thorough record on the future and also present capacities of the Italian”Wild Weasels”quickly. About David Cenciotti David Cenciotti is a self-employed reporter based in Rome, Italy.

He is the Founder and also Editor of”The Aviationist”, among the globe’s most well-known as well as review armed forces air travel blog sites. Given that 1996, he has actually created for significant around the world publications, consisting of Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and also lots of others, covering air travel, protection, battle, sector, criminal activity, cyberwar as well as knowledge. He has actually reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and also Syria, as well as flown a number of fight airplanes with various flying force. He is a previous 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a personal pilot and also a grad in Computer Engineering. He has actually created 5 publications as well as added to much more ones.

F-35: Capabilities, Missions, Kinematics, Role In Ukrainian Crisis And Beyond. Interview With Billie Flynn

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F-35: Capabilities, Missions, Kinematics, Role In Ukrainian Crisis And Beyond
USAF Demo team during the RIAT 2018. (Image Credit: Author)

“The F-35 was designed to operate in highly contested airspace, with capabilities precisely focused on what we have been seeing in Ukraine today.”

We have had an expansive chat with Billie Flynn recently. When it deals with the Lightning II, no one has Flynn’s knowledge. He is a 5th Generation experimental test pilot and airshow pilot who has been a part of development of the F-35. He authored the famous 2017 Paris Air Show routine that busted many myths about the Lightning II’s performance.

He can be considered a sort of global spokesman for the F-35 program and we interviewed him so as to have his view of the Lightning II stealth aircraft, as it becomes proliferated in Europe and is deployed to NATO’s Eastern Flank amid growing tensions with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

<img data-attachment-id="79276" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/billie-flynn/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Billie-Flynn.jpg" data-orig-size="1780,1402" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Billie Flynn" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Billie Flynn poses next to an F-35. (Image courtesy Billie Flynn – billieflynn.com)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-16.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-2.jpg” class=”size-large wp-image-79276″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-2.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”556″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-2.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-16.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-17.jpg 122w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-18.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-19.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Billie-Flynn.jpg 1780w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Billie Flynn poses next to an F-35. (Image courtesy Billie Flynn – billieflynn.com)

The Aviationist: Given the state of the Polish Air Force – how do you think Poland could integrate the F-35 in the Air Force? What the major challenges would be, when it comes to interoperability between the Lightning II, and the Polish Viper fleet? Where would, in your opinion, the F-35 fit?

Billie Flynn: So, let’s talk about the state of the Polish Air Force. Let’s use the F-16 integration as the first step in this example. I served in Europe and understood the Eastern Bloc’s capabilities. As a Lockheed Martin test pilot, I flew the Polish Block 52 aircraft during their acceptance flights and I’m very familiar with their capability. When the Polish Air Force took on the F-16, it took was a massive step forward to westernize a former Eastern Bloc air force, to (make them) understand how we think in the West and adapt to a very capable, very lethal 4th generation fighter. We see now, years later, how successful the training and the integration has been and how capable the pilots in the Polish Air Force are with that aircraft. So now the Polish Air Force needs to think how to integrate the F-35, building on that F-16 experience. I think that the successful integration of the F-16, and that huge leap forward that has been taken by the Air Force, will be mirrored when we look at the F-35.

<img data-attachment-id="79261" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/b-52-works-with-polish-f-16s-2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/7-scaled.jpg" data-orig-size="2560,1829" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"9.5","credit":"1st Combat Camera Squadron","camera":"NIKON D5","caption":"A Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon engages in a planned intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, Oct. 28, 2019, over Poland. This deployment allows aircrews and support personnel to conduct theater integration and to improve bomber interoperability with joint partners and allied nations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)","created_timestamp":"1572235200","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"98","iso":"140","shutter_speed":"0.0013333333333333","title":"B-52 works with Polish F-16s","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="B-52 works with Polish F-16s" data-image-description data-image-caption="

A Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon engages in a planned intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, Oct. 28, 2019, over Poland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-20.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-3.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79261″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-3.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”504″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-3.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-20.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-21.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-22.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-23.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/7-2048×1463.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

A Polish Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon engages in a planned intercept of a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress during Bomber Task Force Europe 20-1, Oct. 28, 2019, over Poland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Duncan C. Bevan)

It would be essentially a foundation for the next steps, right?

Well, it shows the potential of the pilots, and the Air Force itself, to adopt something dramatically new. Because the F-35 is the most sophisticated fighter in the world today, bar none, dramatically more capable than the Block 52, the Eurofighter, or any other 4th generation jet. This 5th gen capability is astonishingly lethal. Remembering what the Air Force just did this over the past decades with the F-16 should give confidence that it will be able to integrate the F-35 with the F-16. Learning to leverage the F-35 advantages will keep the F-16s survivable. The F-16 is not survivable in the very highly contested world, like the Ukraine, for example, with significant numbers of sophisticated surface-to-air threats that the Russian Armed Forces have. The F-16 would never survive by itself. However, the F-35 was designed to operate in highly contested airspace, with capabilities precisely focused on what we have been seeing in Ukraine today. If you have F-35s, you do not necessarily need F-16s to do the damage that the F-35 would bring. They’re a monstrously capable and lethal platform, against SAMs or any kind of ground defenses or troops. But once Air Dominance is achieved, when you need additional firepower, you use the F-35 to protect the F-16s.

How would the F-35 fit in the Polish IADS – what could it do, how it could become a valid asset. We know that Poland has procured the Patriot MRAD, along with the IBCS network – so the F-35 can be plugged into it. What are the real-life benefits of this?

Here we start talking about multi-domain operations. Surface-to-air capabilities and airborne assets, integrate, operating in a joint, multi-domain effort: Instead of having separate forces – the air force, army, and navy will leverage the notion of joint capabilities. As you see with the F-35 plus the sophisticated anti-aircraft capability like the Patriot is, there is synergy in joint operations. F-35 brings sees so much with its sensors, like no legacy 4th generation platforms which help build a battlespace picture that would not be capable of being constructed with the other assets that would be flown. With that battlespace picture, and seeing the threats that are coming in, the Patriot comes into the equation.

So that really makes the F-35 a high value asset, right?

Truly, it’s more than just a tactical aircraft.

Do you think procurement of communication assets for legacy platforms is key? How could the Vipers talk to the Lightning, using MADL – should a pod be designed for that purpose, or should some new avionics be used – to benefit from the sensor fusion? How big the difference is in the comms department, as opposed to the 4th gen, and what impact does it have on the freedom of data exchange. What impact does it have on situational awareness, compared to the 4th generation aircraft?

Let’s talk about the two different methods of communications with datalinks and sharing information. Link 16, which is the NATO standard, both in 4th gen and 5th gen, is like a big lighthouse – and you broadcast your information everywhere, to everyone on the network. It’s omnidirectional, so it’s everywhere. And anyone can pick up that signal. If you’re transmitting as a part of a datalink network, you can be found, because you are an emitting source. That’s the first problem.

And the second problem is, there really is not a lot of sophisticated data that goes across on Link 16. It is essentially the position data, some elements of what weapons you are carrying and how much fuel you have, and some communications information that goes in the back and forth. But the F-35, and F-22, (each with a different format), the datalinks are designed as low probability of intercept stealthy networks. They are not omnidirectional, but instead uniquely directed on to those aircraft in the network, communicating with each other. Packets of data are sent directly back and forth but not in a continuous stream of data as in Link 16. Intercepting that data would be cosmically difficult to do and that’s how it remains stealthy.

When transmitting through MADL, no one can find the four, or eight aircraft in the network. F-35 is not just sending position data and simple communications but exactly what my aircraft sees in data-fused packets so that everything I see is shared with everyone else and vice versa. Our situational awareness is dramatically more comprehensive than anyone could imagine. Can a 4th Gen platform share this 5th Gen data? At present, no. Those 4th Gen airplanes cannot absorb or process the extraordinary amount of data that F-35 sensor fusion can handle. There is no processing capability in an F-16, or in an F-18, or in F-15EX, or in any other 4th generation airplane. In the future, we can perhaps design some data link that allows us to use a stealthier format to pass on information – and that way it’s not going to expose everyone on the datalink, the way the Link 16 does.

So, basically what you’re saying is – even if there’s a pod, or avionics designed for 4th gen, the remainder of the system would not be able to consume the data that the F-35 produces?

You’ve used the right term. They would not be able to CONSUME the data that the F-35 would transmit.

So, it’s Link 16 for now?

Yes, it’s Link 16 for NATO for now. As we’ve introduced the F-35 to NATO nations, think about Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, the UK and even now with Danish pilots are transitioning to the F-35, there is more incentive for us collectively, to figure out how to pass information to our 4th generation assets, without exposing us in F-35s. We need to get data to those platforms while staying safe in our sanctuary, operating as very low-observable fighters.

<img data-attachment-id="79264" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/3-14/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/3.jpg" data-orig-size="2048,1365" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="3" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Luke AFB Aerial Shoot with a Lockheed Martin F-35A-2B “Lightning II” (JSF) (s/n 12-5056) and a General Dynamics F-16C Block 42A “Fighting Falcon” (s/n 87-0360) – (Image Credit: Robert Sullivan/flickr)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-24.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-4.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79264″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-4.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-4.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-24.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-25.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-26.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-27.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/3.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Luke AFB Aerial Shoot with a Lockheed Martin F-35A-2B “Lightning II” (JSF) (s/n 12-5056) and a General Dynamics F-16C Block 42A “Fighting Falcon” (s/n 87-0360) – (Image Credit: Robert Sullivan/flickr)

It can be said then that this is one of the major problems for figuring out interoperability between legacy platforms and 5th gen.

We have a lot of learning, and we are learning rapidly now, that the F-35 is in Central Europe. The F-35s participate in the Frisian Flag exercise right at this day, this week that we’re talking. We are learning how to use a 5th gen asset with the 4th gen platforms that are out there as blue air, as the good guys, and figuring out how best to optimize the F-35 and its lethality, but also how to keep the 4th gen platforms survivable. As we move forward, we will get smarter about exactly what will enable that better – moving forward.

In Poland, there has been this recurring myth on the Lightning II – those who question the procurement say that Warsaw does not need a deep-strike/SEAD/DEAD platform like the F-35 – calling it an offensive aircraft – and that we should procure an air superiority, defensive jet. Is the F-35 really solely an ‘offensive’ strike aircraft?

Well, the F-35 is a truly multi-role platform, in terms of defensive capability and offensive capability. But the aircraft that Poland will get will be able to carry six AMRAAM air-to-air missiles inside the weapons bay plus two AIM-9 or ASRAAM IR missiles, on the outward wing stations; that’s 8 missiles on the F-35 which is as lethal as anything else that’s out there. By the way, the picture of F-15EX with 22 AMRAAMs hides the fact that it could not take off with a maximum load of fuel, plus all those missiles at the same time. And no one has 22 AMRAAMs to load on a single fighter. A realistic loadout is six plus two that you will see in the later lots of the F-35. The F-35 is meant to protect other nations that have bought the jet, which are defensive in nature including Switzerland, Finland, and Canada In Finland, they’re worried about 1400 kilometers of border shared with Russia. In Switzerland, they would never anticipate flying the F-35 outside of their border, their job is to protect the nation. With its exceptional reach and sensor performance, across many spectrums, a very significant air-2-air loadout, and a stealthy platform, the F-35s will give those air forces a dramatic advantage over everything else. It is the most capable defensive platform out there.

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F-15EX (Image Credit: Boeing)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-28.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-5.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79265″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-5.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”395″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-5.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-28.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-29.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-30.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/5.jpg 960w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

F-15EX (Image Credit: Boeing)

Somewhat related to that, here’s another question: there is a lot of talk, currently, regarding the capabilities of the F-35, and the meaning they may have for Poland in the wake of the recent geopolitical events. Some voices in the debate suggest that Poland would be better off procuring the F-15 – as it is faster, flies higher, and acts as a better kinematic platform for launching the missiles, with the mythical FL400 quoted as a reference altitude for the Flankers to fly at. Is this an area in which the F-35 would struggle – as we have seen in Ukraine, most of the strikes are done in a stand-off setting, and some experts claim that one needs a long stick to shoot the shooter? Are Germany and Finland wrong to procure the F-35 for the DCA role? How can the F-35 features be used in a DCA role?

The high-end speed of aircraft when they are clean, slicked off, is interesting. I was at 1.9 Mach when I was a Eurofighter Typhoon test pilot in Germany 20 years ago. I’ve been Mach 2.05 in the F-16 many times. For the F-35, its endpoint is 1.6 Mach. The two previous cases – the Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-16 – they cannot go to their maximum Mach number with their weapons and fuel loaded out. With their electro-optical Litening pods, Sniper pods, and equivalents – they can’t do their max Mach. The max speed of an F-15 – Mach 2+ – will never be achieved with a weapons loadout on the airplane because the drag on the outside will always prevent the jet from getting there. An F-35 will fly 1.6 Mach, with a weapons bay full of missiles and wingtip missiles, and I, as a test pilot have demonstrated that repeatedly. During the envelope expansion program, in my case flying the F-35B, and F-35C models I regularly at 1.6 Mach, with bombs and missiles in the weapons bay, and IR missiles on the outboard stations. F-35 flies 1.6 Mach which is necessarily faster than those two other aircraft.

Kinematics – In attrition warfare, where each airplane can see each other, whoever’s missile gets there first, hopefully kills the other airplane. With two missiles in the air there, one does not get to time out, because the launch aircraft died. You always wanted to be able to shoot first. To do that, you want to go as fast, or as high as you can to give your missile basically the fastest push – so it would go higher, faster, and get there first, before the other person’s missile hits you. That assumes that we both saw each other. And we’ve been playing this cat and mouse game of who gets missiles in the air, and who turns away from each other, to slow the closure velocity of the aircraft, as the missiles come out of each other, making the missiles fly further. It’s an old game of attrition warfare. But what happens when I’m in a very low observable F-35, and cannot be seen by the adversary, is that I to get to shoot my missile wherever I want before he (the other pilot) ever even knows I exist. My missile is in the air. My weapons bay doors have opened fired the missile, closed the weapons bay doors, and I may even have turned around, while my missile is impacting his jet. I am no longer playing the kinematic tactic that has been a part of our world for through all the years of 3rd gen and 4th gen weapons and fighters. I’m not trading kinematics as we did with 4th gen weapons.

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Italian Eurofighter Typhoon demo at RIAT 2018. (Image Credit: Author)

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Italian Eurofighter Typhoon demo at RIAT 2018. (Image Credit: Author)

One last thing about the F-15EX: It is a wonderfully capable airplane. It will serve as a defensive capacity in North America which is why the US Air Force is buying it. The F-15EX is the last iteration of this fabulous design that’s been around for decades upon decades. It is based on the Saudi Arabian F-15SA that has since become Americanized. But it’s on its last life and there will be no major upgrades from this point on as opposed to the F-35, whose future growth potential looks out over thirty to forty years ahead. The F-35 remains at the beginning of its lifetime, not like the F-15EX, which is, necessarily, the last version of the F-15, and it does not have decades ahead of it – like the F-35 has.

Moreover, all those nations in Europe would be operating the F-35. Where the dedicated air superiority platform like the Typhoon was present, the F-35 comes in as an addition, but some nations had no air superiority platform in their possession before, like the Netherlands, Denmark, and so on. And they are not looking out to get the Eagle, right?

No, they are not. Use the F-16 example as the way forward when we talk about multi-role interoperability and what the F-35 will be. Remember, I flew the CF-18s in Baden-Soellingen Germany, and in a 4th gen fighter I went to the Tactical Leadership Programme to learn about NATO interoperability. The standard was the F-16. Air forces that had 2nd gen F-104s, F-100s in the case of Denmark, or F-5s, made the leap to the F-16 and learned how to fly and fight using the same type of fighter. Those air forces became great at the air-to-ground mission plus having an air-to-air capability that evolved over time.

The F-35 does those air-to-air and air-to-ground missions plus Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance. The F-35 performs every mission set. We learned in 4th gen how to fly together, how to share tactics and execute multi-role missions, with the F-16 as our baseline. With the F-35, everyone is flying the same platform, sharing data, between Danish, Italian, German, Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian, British, and American aircraft. But in 5th Gen we are not just dropping bombs, as an air-to-ground airplane or flying relatively simple air-to-air missions. In F-35, we are executing the most sophisticated mission sets ever in our air forces. The term that I use is not multi-role but instead multi-mission.

Regarding the multi-mission capabilities: Is CAS sortie flown by the F-35 very much different from one flown by the Viper? Has a new CAS doctrine been developed for the F-35?

We have learned how conduct CAS in the F-35 led by the US Marine Corps. The core doctrine of the US Marine Corps is to really protect the Marines on the ground and all assets are there to protect those Marines on the ground, fighting the fight. There’s a place for medium altitude CAS, operating in the sanctuary, targeting dropping the weapons required. The reality is that that does not work when the enemy is close. In an Iraq or Afghanistan type scenario, when you need bullets or weapons close to friendly troops, dropping weapons from 25,000 feet will not be acceptable. There’s a reality that you’d probably take any asset that would be brought down to the high-threat environment because you’re protecting troops on the ground.

I guess what I said to you is: medium altitude CAS exists, we’ve learned how to do that in Afghanistan and Iraq, but there may be a time when the troops are in contact and you’re going to come down and use the gun in the F-35, just like the Marines would have to do with a gun pod in an F-35B, and like the A-10 had to do over the years. That’s a lot of risk for an 80-million-dollar F-35 but our job is to protect the troops on the ground. We will become very good at medium altitude CAS, dropping JDAMs, Small Diameter Bombs, Paveway IV in the case of the UK. We will certainly work on those tactics but at some point, you do have to protect the troops on the ground.

<img data-attachment-id="79267" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/guns-on-deck-history-is-made-2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/8-scaled.jpg" data-orig-size="2560,1707" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"9","credit":"3rd Marine Aircraft Wing","camera":"Canon EOS 5D Mark III","caption":"LtCol Joseph Freshour, the commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, accelerates as he prepares to launch from the deck of Her Majesty's Ship (HMS) Queen Elizabeth armed with a Gun Pod Unit (GPU) – 9\/A, at sea on 28 September, 2020. Freshour became the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter pilot to fly from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth while carrying a GPU. This milestone continues VMFA-211's preparation for the United Kingdom's Carrier Strike Group global deployment.","created_timestamp":"1601265600","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"70","iso":"640","shutter_speed":"0.0015625","title":"Guns on Deck, History is Made","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="Guns on Deck, History is Made" data-image-description data-image-caption="

LtCol Joseph Freshour, the commanding officer of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, accelerates as he prepares to launch from the deck of Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Queen Elizabeth armed with a Gun Pod Unit (GPU) – 9/A, at sea on 28 September, 2020. Freshour became the first F-35B Joint Strike Fighter pilot to fly from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth while carrying a GPU. This milestone continues VMFA-211’s preparation for the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group global deployment.

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-35.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-7.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”wp-image-79267 size-large” src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-7.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-7.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-35.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-36.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-37.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-38.jpg 1536w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/8-2048×1365.jpg 2048w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

USMC F-35 with a GAU-22 gun pod. (Photo by 1st Lt. Zachary Bodner, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing)

Or devise a new CAS platform.

Or devise a new CAS platform. We all love the A-10, there is no conversation ever that any aircraft can truly and effectively replace the A-10, even after all these years. Everyone on the ground will tell you that it has proven itself to be invaluable.

What about the self-defense measures and countermeasures that the F-35 uses – is the difference significant, as opposed to the 4th gen?

Absolutely. I am not going to talk about the specifics of what’s on board. But absolutely, the self-protection capabilities of the F-35 are more high-end that you will find on any 4th gen platform, anywhere in Europe. Absolutely.

Given your experience flying the F-35 and other types – has the myth that the F-35 is a poor dogfighter been busted already, during your Paris Air Show routine, or is this still a major problem? How effective the F-35 is in the BFM scenario – if it comes to it – because we know that this is an aircraft designed not to get into BFM – but still, if you were to take on a Flanker, how would it go?

Yes. We’ve busted the myth about the maneuverability of the F-35, when I flew in Paris, in June 2017, almost 5 years ago. That demonstration crushed the conversation about whether the F-35 was maneuverable or not. We showed the square loop, the slow speed pass at 35 degrees AoA, and performed a pedal turn at 50 degrees AoA, spiraling around at 50 degrees a second yaw rate. There’s only one other aircraft in the western world that can do that – and that’s the F-22 Raptor; it has thrust vectoring and we did not. We showed astonishing maneuverability. In the air show demonstrations shown by the United States Air Force F-35 demo pilots since then, they have reinforced the maneuverability and what the F-35 can do.

Do we still do BFM? We absolutely still train BFM. It’s one of those core skills to teach a pilot about how maneuverable his aircraft is. He (or she) has to get in there, and see how aggressive the aircraft can be, to gain the confidence in their own abilities and how to maneuver the aircraft aggressively and learn what the aircraft can really do. BFM will always be an essential skill we want to teach fighter pilots. Do I ever want to give up all of the amazing capabilities that I had in my F-35 leading into a merge – all the situational awareness I had, all the time I had to complete the kill chain, to kill the adversary, before facing him across the circle in a Top-Gun type fight? I would never want to make that mistake and miss those opportunities.

Would it happen? It would be so arrogant and mistaken to state that there could never be a BFM fight in an F-35. What’s the aircraft like to fight in BFM? I was originally a CF-18 pilot and then later in my career I’ve spent much of my time in F-16s and Eurofighter Typhoons. These fighters have different flight-control logics. The Hornet loves to fly slow. It has that incredible capability in slow-speed maneuvering whereas the F-16, Gripen, Eurofighter and Rafale are all meant as high-speed fighters. They have 9G limits and they’re really meant to go around the corner, chasing the adversary, quickly and fast. They are beautifully flying airplanes, even at the aggressiveness of the 9G. But it’s two different philosophies. One tries to point its nose quickly at the adversary and shoot quicker – like the F-18 – and the other one tries to race around the circle faster – F-16, Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen.

The F-35 is more like an F-18 – remember the air show demonstrations of 50 degrees AoA, and a square-loop, and pedal turn. That’s what its highlight capability is – different than F-16 or the Typhoon. It is just a different philosophy. Where should the F-35 advantage be? As a minimum, I should enter the combat environment having seen my adversary long before he could see me with a significant advantage even before the fight starts. That’s really what the F-22 had learned over all these years. When they allow themselves to get into air combat, they have a huge advantage, because they’ve seen the adversary much, much earlier than the adversary sees them, so the fight typically ends much quicker like that.

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Billie Flynn flying his Paris Air Show 2017 F-35 demo. (Image Credit: Karol Piętka)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-39.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-8.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79268″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-8.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”397″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-8.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-39.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-40.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-41.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-42.jpg 678w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/9.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Billie Flynn flying his Paris Air Show 2017 F-35 demo. (Image Credit: Karol Piętka)

So, the F-35 is more of a nose-position fighter, than a circle fight type airplane?

Yep.

There is a great deal of talk about how low RCS has an impact on air combat. What does it mean for a pilot – in practical terms, when it comes to fighting – in OCA and especially in the DCA setting – let’s talk about some hypothetical, real-life scenarios here?

There really is a transition in how you think – remember, I’m a 4th gen baby, CF-18, F-16, Typhoon – and then I learned how to fly the F-35. It was hard for me to understand at the beginning that the adversary can’t see you. Instead of being defensive as you approach your adversary, assuming that he has already seen you, and always watching for someone entering and attacking us, you’re now looking ahead in the F-35, knowing he does not see you, and knowing that you see everything out there. That switch to the offensive mentality is a complete change of mindset. When you learn to believe, when you learn to accept that you really are invisible, that’s when you become incredibly potent with the F-35. That’s when you start killing the adversary quickly. We have seen, time and again, whether it’s Red Flag exercises, other large-scale exercises, in deployments overseas, or as we saw when I led the F-35 deployment for Finland’s H-X Challenge just how capable the aircraft is. It’s not a fair fight, and I don’t ever want it to be fair. I want us to be 20:1 better than the adversary, or even more dominating than that.

So, was the 20:1 figure in the Red Flag a marketing figure, or an oversimplification?

No, it was not. It’s the real thing. Much like the F-22 demonstrated for so long – nobody beats F-22. They have been dominating for their entire operational life. Now the F-35 shows up and we’re winning better than 20:1 in the most aggressive scenarios against adversary pilots who are better than the Russian pilots ever would be. The western fighters who pretend to be the adversaries, the Red Air as we call them, are more capable than the real Russian aircraft are. And yet, we still win better than 20:1 in the highest contested environments, which are very much mirrored to what we have been seeing in Ukraine now.



Given the proliferation of the F-35 among European users, do you think that the F-35 is on its way to becoming the next standard fighter for NATO, like the F-16 and the F-104 did in the past?

It’s going to be like the F-104 was as a 2nd Gen fighter and the F-4 as a 3rd Gen fighter. The 4th gen NATO standard was the F-16, a franchise program with more than 4,700 of them built thus far and Lockheed Martin building even more. The total number of F-16 built will surpass 5,000 ultimately. Now you see how the F-35 has gained so much traction. It has proven itself with the United States Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy, the Israeli Defense Force, in the UK now. Every user loves what this aircraft can do. There will be more than 3,000 F-35s built over their lifetime. It’s THE platform of 5th gen. It’s a franchise platform, as I call it.

So, a 5th gen. franchise…

Yes, as the F-16 was. The F-16 over all the years evolved from this lightweight fighter, with a very poor radar and only an AIM-9 capability to this incredibly capable, lethal airplane that it is now; the iterations of Block 52, UAE Air Force F-16 E/F Block 60, or the now emerging Block 70. It’s remarkable how the capability of the Viper grew over the years. You will see that same pattern of growth with the F-35 over its lifetime. It is the NATO standard already. Germany with 35 aircraft that are not going to be just nuclear-capable delivery airplanes, replacing Tornado. The Luftwaffe is now going to find out that they have this astonishing, capable new aircraft that does every mission set better than any other platform. Those aircraft will transform and push the Luftwaffe, as happened with other air forces, dramatically higher in capability than they could’ve imagined.

So maybe we’ll see a future German procurement of more F-35s?

I don’t know. I’ve spent many years as a German test pilot, and I recognize how important the industry is there. But I do think the 35 aircraft will transform the Luftwaffe, its philosophy, and what the air power can do in the mission sets that it performs.

For Poland to adopt the F-35, do you think procurement of AEW, and tankers would be a beneficial force multiplier?

I think we will, collectively in NATO, rethink our airborne early warning platforms. Clearly AWACS has done amazing service, it has taken us through the first Gulf War, through my experience in combat in Kosovo in 1999, to Iraq, Syria, Libya, since then, right? But it’s at the end of its days. We see the effective Wedgetail, first in Australia and now has the interest of the USAF. We’ve seen what that kind of capability does and why it’s interesting to have a platform like that. 5th Gen fighters like F-35 gather so much knowledge of the battlespace.

But to ask an individual pilot to orchestrate and be that commander of the overall battle is probably too much for that one person in the cockpit. If that information comes back to a AEW platform that has great capabilities, but also can coordinate the air battle based on all that knowledge gathered by the fighters and then dictate and task the fighters to prosecute the battle plan. In that case you are effectively using a platform to allow them to control the battle much like AWACS did a generation ago back in 4th gen. Does Poland acquire such a platform, or does NATO evolve and pick a NATO platform that all NATO nations can contribute to, as happened for the NATO AWACS in Gelsenkirchen where it has been based for so many years? Yes.

<img data-attachment-id="79269" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/11-9/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/11.jpg" data-orig-size="1199,819" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="11" data-image-description data-image-caption="

Royal Australian Air Force Wedgetail AEW platform. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Ryabtsev)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-43.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-9.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79269″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-9.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”482″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-9.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-43.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-44.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-45.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/11.jpg 1199w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

Royal Australian Air Force Wedgetail AEW platform. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Sergey Ryabtsev)

Do you need tankers? Does NATO collectively need more tankers? Absolutely, if they are going to deploy like we ended up in Kosovo, back again 20+ years ago, when we needed airborne refueling assets to allow us to go deep into Serbian territory. Or, in our case today potentially, into Russian territory. The nations, collectively, need tankers. Do individual countries need their own tanker assets? I do not think so because the F-35 has more range and better persistence than any other legacy fighter. The F-35A has 18,500 pounds of internal fuel which is more gas than is carried by a legacy F-16, or Typhoon, or Hornet. All that fuel means that the F-35 can go further, and stay airborne longer, than even the F-16, which has really good legs. I do not know if you need tankers as individual nations. NATO has to look at the tanker assets and decide what the nations collectively need.

So, this goes back to the Eagle: do you say that Lightning has a longer loiter time, station time, than the F-15?

This depends, if we’re asking Eagle to carry 3 fuel tanks, is he loitering now, does he have a lot of missiles on the outside, which adds to its drag? The F-35 has a very efficient, 5th generation Pratt & Whitney F-135 engine. It was designed like a commercial engine, more efficient than any of the 4th gen fighter engines could be. Those 4th gen engines are based on 40-year-old technology, as opposed to much more advanced 5th Gen technology. The F-35 is more efficient when it’s airborne, has less drag, and carries a lot of gas. It can sit on station a long time. I flew a long, long time, being airborne in the F-35 for all those years, a lot longer than I ever did on those legacy platforms like the F-16, F-18, or the Typhoon.

F-35 and legacy airframes (F-16/F-15/MiG-29). How much training is needed to cross between the two?

OK. When I answer this, all of the MiG-29 pilots in Poland that I know, that I knew back in the airshow days, are going to hate me. And they never going to speak to me again. Will the F-16 pilots transition to the F-35? Absolutely which is what happened with many of the air forces that transitioned to F-35 already. We had to take the experienced pilots, from the Netherlands, Norway, as examples, and let them transition to be the tactical leaders in the new F-35 squadrons as their air forces learn to adopt the F-35. Only then can you eventually bring in the young pilots who only know the F-35. But to start you have to transition those 4th gen pilots, who have the airmanship, the tactical leadership and flight-lead experience to be the core of the future squadrons, They are going to be the senior Captains, Majors, and Squadron Commanders. There is no place for the MiG-29 pilots in the sophisticated world of 5th gen, with a transition made directly to the F-35.

Even now the Polish Air Force is separated. There’s very much the Russian, Eastern Bloc mentality vs the Western F-16 cadre. And those fighter pilots do not cross back and forth between MiG-29 and F-16. For any pilot, it is such a leap to go to the F-35. Asking a very capable MiG pilot to transition to this cosmic spaceship is far too much to grasp. Every part of how we mechanize the aircraft in the West is different from how Russians design their aircraft, every part of philosophy of how you fly an airplane, how you design cockpits, how you process information is different. To say to an F-16 pilot: Hey, we’re Lockheed Martin, and we build the aircraft the certain way, and switches the certain way, and now we’re going to give you the next generation of that, there’s a logic flow of our design, of the F-16, as the baseline, that kind of looks like what the F-35 is. This is a logical step forward. That does not exist for the MiG cadre. And I think the MiG cadre will end up atrophying, spending their time in that jet until the MiG-29 phases out. You need to take the F-16 cadre and make them move forward to the F-35. That is going to make me very unpopular with the MiG-29 guys in Poland.

How much training would be needed between the Viper, and the Lightning? Is it a long program?

I think here we shall look at what the other nations have done. Remember our example, like the USAF – with lots of F-16 pilots converting to F-35, we see the Netherlands, Norway, and now Denmark. We’ll see Belgium send their F-16 pilots to convert to F-35 at some point. We know that there’s a transition of experienced pilots, from every F-35-user nation, to be pushed through the F-35 training system. It is a mature pattern right now around for years since that we’ve been out training pilots for these aircraft to be operational. We obviously do not actually know how long it will take for Polish Air Force pilots to transition to the F-35whether it’s 6 months, or 9 months, or 10 months. But there’s a system in place now.

An oddball question, but as a test pilot who actually took part in development of that system: what are your thoughts on A-GCAS? Is it a nuisance, or a great asset? The second part of the question refers to the claims made by Soviet pilots back in the day, as back in the 1990s there was a real fear of fly-by-wire, as the Soviet pilots quoted in the old Wings of the Red Star series stated. They claimed that it can be a thing that prevents them from gaining advantage, if it does not let them conduct a much needed maneuver in given circumstances? Do you think Auto-GCAS would be a problem for a really experienced guy, who knows what he’s doing? Is it a nuisance?

Let me explain so the people reading this will understand. The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System is this capability where the aircraft senses that it’s going to impact the ground, whatever the terrain is – mountains or the flat ground. And it says: Look, for some reason the pilot has not done anything. I’m going to take control from the pilot, I’m going to orient the aircraft upright, fly away from that terrain and then I’ll give back the control to the pilot. In the period from 2009 to 2011, I was a part of the Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works Team – a very famous name – along with NASA and USAF team that matured the technology for Auto GCAS. That technology was later fielded in the F-16, and more recently in the F-35.

A derivative of that Auto GCAS design went to the US Navy, and it’s going into Super Hornets and legacy Hornets. There are so many guys that we’ve known, in every air force, who have hit the ground over the years, for so many reasons. It’s disorientation, inexperience, of loss of consciousness from pulling too much G. There’s a host of reasons, Controlled Flight Into Terrain as it is called is an indiscriminate killer. It kills young and old, experienced, and inexperienced, day and night and there is no common denominator.

Over the years CFIT has killed so many that everyone else knows someone who has died. And Auto GCAS now is essentially flawless. When it takes over, it is beyond the threshold of what the human could tolerate. As a test pilot during its testing, I could never fly myself past the limit, of when Auto-GCAS would take control from me. When it takes over, you’re really beyond what the human can stand, and you really are going to die. In a pilot’s lifetime, he will likely never see the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System activation because he’s never going to fly that close to the ground, orient himself upside down or try to kill himself by flying that way. If and when Auto GCAS comes on, it’s meant to save you.

There are YouTube videos of an F-16 where the system activates and saves the life of the pilot who has blacked out and is going to die. Auto GCAS orients the airplane and flies it up away from the ground and saves him. He would have died if auto-GCAS had not be in the jet. So, nuisance? There is no sense of nuisance with Auto-GCAS. It is the most important contribution to the flight safety in the past 50 years, since fly-by-wire technology was introduced in the western world. The Auto GCAS team was awarded the 2018 Collier Trophy which is the highest award in aviation and is given out be the National Aeronautic Association, because of just the potential of this technology to save lives. I think that we should all be thankful that Auto-GCAS is in the F-16, and F-35, it’s now going into the legacy and Super Hornet fleets. Seven of the sixteen fatalities in the Canadian CF-18 over its 40-year lifetime were from hitting the ground where Auto-GCAS could save lives.

As time moves on, Auto GCAS will continue to save many, many lives, and billions of dollars in assets, over many, many years to come.



Let’s hope it goes into general aviation soon as well.

Yes, that’s really the future, right? Like a lot of technologies in the military world – think of the HUD – which we’ve flown for forty years and now, many years later after proving itself in fighter jets see it in modern day GA, or 787, or C-17, or C-130J. You will see an Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance [System] in the 737 at some point. You’ll see it in a Gulfstream jet, Bombardier Global Express or Dassault’s iteration of corporate jets at some point in the future.

Coming back to the F-35:. How does it feel to fly using DAS to look through the airframe? Does it feel weird? Is it a useful concept? How does it compare to Striker or JHMCS?

Distributed Aperture System, as you know, is a meshing of six mid-wave IR cameras that are flush mounted on the aircraft. There are two DAS cameras in the sides, two at the bottom, front and back, two at the top, front and back. Those six cameras build a huge picture that is stitched together, to spherically give an infra-red image around the airplane. Wherever you look in your helmet, you see, when DAS is turned on in the helmet, this infra-red hot and cold contrasted image. As you say – if you look between your legs, underneath the aircraft, you see as if the skin of the airplane is not there. During the day, I seldom found a practical application to have the DAS image projected on my helmet because you and I could look out and see what’s on the ground with the naked eye. But at night, I can speak about flying over the East Coast of the US or over the mountains of California, with zero Moon, and all of a sudden, I see, with perfect orientation, the mountains, highways, electrical power lines, rivers and lakes, and while it’s not daytime acuity, I have remarkable situational awareness and essentially see as I would in the day.

That kind of situational awareness allows me to treat flying at night much more matter of fact as when I am flying during the day. That is not the case without DAS when it is pitch black outside, and I don’t have any orientation at all. DAS gives me a view so I can see everything around me and orient myself better. In the F-35 we essentially treat night-time missions like daytime missions. We fly some place up in the sky, where no one sees us. On our screens, there’s no difference between day to night. With DAS I have better orientation looking around to allow me to feel more comfortable at night than I would in a legacy platform.

If you ask about the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System, or Scorpion, which is another version of a monocular helmet, I will tell you that they are dramatically less capable than the F-35 Helmet Mounted Display. JHMCS, as a monocular helmet displays on a single eye where my targets of interest are, and in some cases, it gives me some information about the airplane state. But that image is not the stereoscopic view that I get from the F-35helmet. DAS does not exist in the Striker helmet either. Although Striker is, by all accounts, a very capable helmet. I think that when you’re talking about the F-35 helmet, you’re talking another order of magnitude in capability to aid the pilot. The F-35 HMD is seamless for the pilot to wear and use and we’ve matured all of the growing pains over the many years of testing. We have figured out the problems with it along the way and fixed them. You could fly the F-35 without it, but why wouldn’t you want the helmet on your head? I regularly flew 5-hour missions at Pax River in Maryland on the east coast of the US, and over the ocean, doing testing in F-35Bs and F-35Cs. It sat on my head, and I never noticed any part of it being heavy, or out of balance. It was a seamless part for me. I really want the helmet to be able to look out and understand what the display is telling me with all my targets projected so that I do not have to translate that onto a touch screen in front of me.

There is a real enhancement to my lethality and effectiveness, with the helmet on my head.

<img data-attachment-id="79270" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/f-35-helmet/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/10.jpg" data-orig-size="720,480" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"419th Fighter Wing","camera":"","caption":"U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on July 10, 2021. The display provides the pilot critical information, built-in night vision, and allows a 360-degree view of the aircraft\u2019s outside environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)","created_timestamp":"1625889600","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"F-35 Helmet","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="F-35 Helmet" data-image-description data-image-caption="

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-46.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-10.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79270″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-10.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”471″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-10.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-46.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-47.jpg 128w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/10.jpg 720w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Anthony Farnsworth, 419th Operations Support Squadron, poses for a photo to demonstrate the F-35 Generation III Helmet-Mounted Display at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Image: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Erica Webster)

Is the fitting process slow for the helmet?

Well, it does take time. It’s easy to project an image on one eye. Or either eye. But to get both eyes focused, so I’m not confused, with them being exactly focused, so I am kind of looking at a movie screen – that takes time. We’re much more sophisticated now in how we adjust this, when we fit a new helmet to a pilot. In the beginning, we were not as efficient and had to learn the techniques. Now the process is much easier. For a human to adapt to wearing the helmet is intuitive, and simple to use; Pilots adapt to it right away.

Could you please comment on the photos we have posted of the F-35s without radar reflectors doing patrols over Poland near Ukraine? Is this giving away the signatures to the potential adversary?

I’m not going to comment on that. What I will say though is that having the F-35 on the eastern flank of NATO, where they are deployed now, is a significant deterrent to Russia continuing their ambitions to push further eastward. Because the F-35 represent an extraordinary lethal threat. The F-35 was designed precisely for an environment that we are seeing in Ukraine now and its capacity to neutralize the enemy cannot be matched by any other airplane that flies in anybody else’s air force. So just the fact that the F-35s are there, scares everybody on the other side.

<img data-attachment-id="78346" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/03/02/f-35-without-reflectors-over-poland/usaf-fueling-natos-collective-defense/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-no-radar-reflectors.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,572" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"22","credit":"86th Airlift Wing\/Public Affairs","camera":"NIKON Z 6","caption":"The 388th Fighter Wing\u2019s F-35 Lightning II fifth-generation fighter cruises in Eastern European airspace, Feb. 28, 2022, in support of NATO\u2019s collective defense. U.S. Air Forces in Europe \u2013 Air Forces Africa\u2019s ability to support and integrate with NATO\u2019s air policing missions continually hardens the alliance\u2019s solidarity, collective resolve, and ability to adapt to a dynamic warfighting environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo)","created_timestamp":"1646024400","copyright":"Public Domain","focal_length":"74","iso":"500","shutter_speed":"0.002","title":"USAF: Fueling NATO\u2019s collective defense","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="USAF: Fueling NATO’s collective defense" data-image-description data-image-caption="

U.S. F-35A during refueling. The aircraft does not carry any radar reflectors (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-48.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-11.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-78346″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-11.jpg” alt=”F-35 radar reflectors” width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-11.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-48.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-49.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-50.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-no-radar-reflectors.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

U.S. F-35A during refueling. The aircraft does not carry any radar reflectors (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Edgar Grimaldo)

The Ukrainian air war seems to be an old-styled conflict, with many reported aerial engagements and aircraft flying mainly low level. How would the F-35 perform in such a scenario?

First of all, as we all watch what happens in Ukraine, we are witnessing the incredible courage and bravery of the men and women who are defending their homeland, against the Putin’s war of choice. It is miraculous how they have performed thus far, in really deterring the Russian army and doing damage to the significant force that has invaded. I think this has surprised everybody around the world. They are true warriors and heroes. We have seen that the Russian style of warfare is so different from what we have imagined in the West. We saw glimpses of their complete, indiscriminate bombing, old-school tactics in Syria. This style of warfare is certainly not how we in the West have evolved in our very sophisticated way to use our very potent assets. NATO does not want to be dragged into this war, because bringing us in escalates this beyond the conflict in Ukraine and makes it, essentially on its way to WW3. It’s an escalation we collectively know we could not control. If we consider what a fifth gen capability contribute to a theater, like in the Ukraine, recall that the F-35 was designed precisely to fight this high-end fight.

F-35 with a stealth platform that cannot be seen and excels at the Wild Weasel mission flown for years by the F-16. The F-35 is exceptionally capable at executing the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses mission set. It would go in and kill every surface-to-air missile threat that was out there, and neutralize all the threats on the ground, and achieve air dominance because it would kill all the air-to-air assets also. Remember: we see them, they don’t see us. It’s like playing football, when one team’s invisible, and the other team is not with a gross advantage on behalf of the F-35. F-35 would see all the enemy air-to-air threats and kill them all, plus completely neutralizing the surface-to-air missile threat to achieve air dominance. From that point, the forces can conduct their air-to-ground war. That’s what the F-35 was meant to do. So, in a parallel world, because we do not want to be dragged into the Ukraine, the F-35 would completely destroy the Russian forces.

<img data-attachment-id="79263" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/04/07/f-35-interview-with-billie-flynn/1-34/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/1.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,576" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="1" data-image-description data-image-caption="

F-35 demo team, during RIAT 2018. (Image Credit – Author).

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-51.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-12.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79263″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-12.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”397″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-12.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-51.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-52.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-53.jpg 768w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-54.jpg 678w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/1.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

F-35 demo team, during RIAT 2018. (Image Credit – Author).

Could you comment on EW/ESM capabilities the F-35 has, compared to 4th gen platforms? Many air forces are going to replace their SEAD aircraft with the F-35. Along with the EW and ESM capabilities don’t you think the aircraft still miss a dedicated Anti-Radiation Missile – is AARGM-ER a valid option here?

As I said before. The F-35 was designed for the SEAD mission. It’s designed as an VLO platform that is capable of identifying targets on the ground and neutralizing them. That’s where the weapons capabilities that come already with the F-35, are perfectly suited for the SEAD mission. Does it have a very potent electronic warfare capability, electronic attack capability? We have talked about that in public briefings for a long time and I certainly briefed it in Poland when I came to discuss the F-35’s capabilities. That possesses a very lethal capability in terms of electronic attack – that’s jamming – and also in terms of self-protection. How you use that in combination with a stealth platform is part of the tactic of staying survivable with an F-35 in a highly contested environment. Managing our signature, how you could see us or not see us, is hugely important. It serves no purpose to be stealthy in the radar environment, but emitting electrons all over, and so everyone can see us because we’re emitting electromagnetic energy. How we manage our energy signature is secret to us staying unobserved.

Last question: could you please comment on partner nations using the F-35 just for QRA. Isn’t it overkill? Isn’t it a waste of resources?

No. F-35 is a jet that’s meant to sit on QRA as it does right now in Norway, and by the way when F-35s are deployed to Iceland. I expect the F-35 to be able to be flashed up and sent airborne as quickly as possible. F-35s will sit on QRA in Canada and the United States for NORAD missions. F-35, once it gets airborne its sensors can see further than any other legacy platform and is perfectly suited for that intercept mission.

<img data-attachment-id="79098" data-permalink="https://theaviationist.com/2022/03/24/swiss-f35s-produced-in-italy/f-35-for-swiss-air-force-2/" data-orig-file="https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-for-Swiss-Air-Force-2.jpg" data-orig-size="1024,572" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"8","credit":"","camera":"Canon EOS 7D","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1570718163","copyright":"","focal_length":"28","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"0.005","title":"","orientation":"1"}" data-image-title="F-35 for Swiss Air Force 2" data-image-description data-image-caption="

An Italian Air Force F-35A at Keflavik, in Iceland. (Image credit: David Cenciotti)

” data-medium-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-55.jpg” data-large-file=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-13.jpg” loading=”lazy” class=”size-large wp-image-79098″ src=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-13.jpg” alt width=”706″ height=”394″ srcset=”https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-13.jpg 706w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-55.jpg 460w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-56.jpg 128w, https://getyourpilotslicense.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/f-35-capabilities-missions-kinematics-role-in-ukrainian-crisis-and-beyond-interview-with-billie-flynn-57.jpg 768w, https://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/F-35-for-Swiss-Air-Force-2.jpg 1024w” sizes=”(max-width: 706px) 100vw, 706px”>

An Italian Air Force F-35A at Keflavik, in Iceland. (Image credit: David Cenciotti)

What should I have asked you that I did not?

We talked about a lot of questions that people have about the F-35. And it’s important that we answer those questions because the doubts remain until those nations start to use the F-35. Once the national pilots come home speak about F-35’s capabilities, the doubts fade. We saw this in the Netherlands, when the Dutch pilots were able to speak about flying the F-35 and how they really believed in the aircraft. They talked about how it really is more effective, more survivable, more lethal, than they ever imagined, and this changed people’s views on the jet and the program. We see that confidence from Italian, Norwegian and certainly from the United States Marine Corps pilots, as the leading F-35 service in the United States. If you went to Israel, you’d find the same answer. So, I think it’s important that we ask all these questions now – to help build the confidence until the aircraft shows up. Because then you are going to find out from the Polish pilots that they think the jet is astonishing. It’s not marketing. It truly is as effective, survivable, and lethal, as we all imagine.

Let me finish by saying: for so many of us warfare was going to be relegated to an asymmetric warfare style for now, and for decades to come. It was the Balkan conflicts in the early 1990s, Kosovo in 1999, Iraq, and Afghanistan, it was. There were never going to be large scale conflicts again. Peace had broken out, post-Cold War, and we were never going to have the world’s largest most powerful forces fight each other again. The world has had a real awakening in the last 35, 36 days showing that this is not true anymore. we see that WW3 is a real possibility. And we are not going to get over the threat of Putin and Russia for decades to come. We in the free world have been threatened. We are collectively stronger, as NATO, than anyone ever imagined. As American, if you want to bring us together, then show us a single enemy, and we really know how to focus our energies. And that’s what Putin has done. He has resurrected and re-energized the unification of NATO. We will together train to the high threat environment, and we will no longer believe that the threat in front of us is just another Balkans conflict, with old surface-to-air missiles. We get it.

The new threat involves highly sophisticated surface-to-air missiles, highly contested airspace. We understand that we have to acquire and possess the most lethal and survivable capabilities now and will maintain the readiness needed to fight a Russian-type threat for decades to come. That’s where the F-35 conversation comes in. Had Ukraine not happened, it would have been hard in many countries to justify the F-35 moving forward. So many people would have believed that buying the F-35 was overkill, hat it was an American strike weapon as it was thought of in Canada. That is not the conversation anymore. The announcement in Canada, on March 28, 2022, validates what we all know, that the world has woken up, and we’ve realized that we are threatened in the western world now. We take that threat this seriously with platforms like the F-35.

Germany even more, right?

Absolutely. Did anyone possibly predict Germany to reverse course on Growler and Super Hornet, to defy what their previous defense minister had said when she vetoed F-35 from even the conversation to immediately commit to 35 F-35s. Germany’s posture reflects what we are all feeling in NATO now. We’re threatened, and we’re going to feel that way for the next decades to come and the F-35 fits perfectly in this construct moving forward.

That sums it up, thank you very much for your time and for the fascinating conversation!

About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.

South Korea Stages ‘Elephant Walk’ With Its F-35As A Day After North Korea Test-Fired A Large ICBM

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F-35 Elephant Walk
ROKAF F-35s during the Elephant Walk on Mar. 25, 2022. (Image credit: ROK MOD)

The Republic Of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has carried out training activities that included an “Elephant Walk” with 28 F-35s on the day after North Korea test-launched a “monster” Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).

On Mar. 24, 2022, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) strategic forces test-launched the new Hwasongpho-17 intercontinental ballistic missile “under the direct guidance” of its leader Kim Jong Un. The launch was carried out at the Pyongyang International Airport, North Korea’s main international airport, according to state media. The ICBM was test fired vertically, from a TEL (Transporter Erector Launcher) and flew 1,090 kilometres for 4,052 seconds reaching the highest altitude of 6,248.5 kilometres before “correctly hitting the target in the set waters over the East Sea of Korea”.

Dubbed a “monster” missile for its size, the new ICBM was originally unveiled during the Korean Workers Party parade on Oct. 10, 2020. The ballistic missile, believed to carry multiple warheads and have a range exceeding 13,000 km, had already been used for two tests, on Feb. 27 and Mar. 5, 2022, that did not demonstrate ICBM range but were likely useful to evaluate this new system before conducting a test at full range in the future, potentially disguised as a space launch. The one on Mar. 24 is believed to be the fourth launch for the Hwasongpho-17 as the missile is presumed to have failed on test carried out on Mar. 16, 2022.

“The test-launch clearly proved that all the parameters of the weapon system exactly met the design requirements and that its prompt operation can be guaranteed scientifically, technically and practically under wartime environment and conditions,” said the state-controlled KCNA.

“The new type weapon system to be operated by the strategic forces of the DPRK under a plan for building up the state nuclear force will creditably perform its mission and duty as a powerful nuclear war deterrent of putting under strict control the nuclear war threats and challenges against the DPRK, taking the initiative to cope with any military crisis and defending the security of the country.”

“Kim Jong Un remarked with pride that the emergence of the new strategic weapon of the DPRK would make the whole world clearly aware of the power of our strategic armed forces once again, adding that the event would be an occasion of convincing the world of the modern feature of our strategic forces and further consolidating the foundation of guarantee and confidence in security of the state based on it. He stressed that the successful development of the new type ICBM, a complex of ultra-modern defence science and technology, is a striking manifestation of the might of our independent defence industry that started and developed by our own strength.”

Kim Jong Un flanked by top military officials during the test launch on Mar. 24, 2022 (Image: Rodong Sinmun)

According to the South Korean media, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) detected the launch, at a lofted angle, from the Sunan airfield in Pyongyang at 14:34 LT and the missile flew some 1,080 kilometers at a top altitude of over 6,200 km, confirming what North Korea’s claims. The latest launch came four days after North Korea fired four artillery shots into the Yellow Sea, apparently using multiple rocket launchers, from Sukchon, north of Pyongyang.

In response to North Korea’s eastward bound launch the Japanese Ministry of Defense launched a P-3C maritime patrol aircraft and at least one F-15J fighter. A video, shot from the cockpit of the JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defense Force) F-15J shows the ICBM during the ascent phase.

In January, Pyongyang had already made a veiled threat that it could lift its voluntary moratorium on strategic weapons tests declared in April 2018 amid nuclear diplomacy with Seoul and Washington. The latest test of this “moster” weapon is a clear message to the U.S. and rest of the world about Pyongyang’s growing nuclear deterrence capabilities. “Respected Comrade Kim Jong -un affirmed that the strategic armed forces of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea are fully prepared to thoroughly block and deter any dangerous military intentions of the American imperialists,” says the official statement released after the test.

Anyway, as a consequence of the North Korea’s show of force, the South has also flexed its muscles, putting its most advanced aircraft, the F-35A in parade. An Elephant Walk that included 28 out of 40 F-35A the ROKAF has received was widely advertised across the social networks with the slogan “Invisible power to protect South Korea” to show that the South Korea’s military “will use the F-35A with all-weather stealth and precision strike capabilities to achieve overwhelming strategic victories and maintain a full military posture that will deter further North Korea’s actions”.

The ROKAF F-35 fleet is based at Cheongju AB, southeast of Seoul, in the center part of South Korea, home of ROKAF’s 17th Fighter Wing and its two child units, the 151 Fighter Squadron and 152 Fighter Squadron, that operate the 5th generation jet. The Republic of Korea selected the F-35 at the end of its F-X III fighter acquisition program with the signing of a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) between the U.S. and Korean governments on Sept. 30, 2014. In total, South Korea ordered 40 F-35A. In December 2017, South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration established a process for procuring the 20 additional aircraft, the Joongang Ilbo newspaper reported, citing multiple government sources. The first F-35A for the ROKAF, known as aircraft AW-1, took flight in Fort Worth, Texas, in March 2018. In the same year, the first F-35A was delivered to Luke AFB, Arizona, for pilot training while in 2019, the first F-35As were delivered to their permanent base in South Korea.

Following a belly landing incident, the fleet was temporarily grounded in January 2022.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.

F-35C Ramp Strike Video Leaked Online

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F-35C ramp strike video
In the boxes: frames from the leaked video showing the F-35C as it hits the deck and skids sideways engulfed in flames.

The video shows the F-35C suffering a ramp strike before bursting in flames and skidding off the deck.

Video footage from the USS Carl Vinson’s  Pilot’s Landing Aid Television (PLAT) camera has just been leaked online, showing what happened to the F-35C of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147 that crashed on January 24, 2022 and sunk in the South China Sea. In the days after the crash, a photo of the F-35C floating in the sea was leaked online, immediately followed by a video shot from the fantail and showing the last seconds before the touchdown. The U.S. Navy confirmed a few days later the authenticity of both the photo and video.

The video leaked today was posted on Reddit and shows both the PLAT camera video and another point of view from the aircraft carrier’s island. We can see the Lightning II coming in with a rapidly increasing sink rate just before the touchdown, which prompted the Landing Signal Officer (LSO) or “Paddles” to start screaming on the radio “power” and then “wave off, wave off” to instruct the pilot to abort the landing and go around immediately.

The next chilling moments, which according to the cameras happened at 16:30:30, show what seems to be a ramp strike or a very short and heavy landing. The quality of the video as it was recorded from a computer screen and the fact that it was recorded with some parallax do not give a very clear view. Either way, the aircraft hit very hard the ship, with the impact shredding off the main landing gear and causing the F-35 to bounce on the deck and hitting it nose-first, before starting to skid sideways while engulfed in flames.

As the aircraft carrier’s crew calls for the fire emergency, the video switches to the other camera, which shows the aftermath of the crash. The second camera’s footage begins as the LSO calls the pilot for more power on the final approach, before issuing the desperate “wave off”. The camera shows that the pilot bailed out as the aircraft went completely sideways in the middle of the deck and already engulfed in flames. The F-35 than proceeded out of control and fell straight in the sea, while some burning pieces flew towards other aircraft parked on the deck, with the emergency crew quickly intervening to put the fires out.

The user that posted the video on Reddit says that the video was not recorded by him/her, without specifying where it was obtained. The video shot from the fantail was first shared on Telegram, before becoming viral on Instagram and other socials. The U.S. Navy did not confirm the video’s authenticity yet, even if the footage appears to be consistent with the details about the incident that have surfaced so far.

Although there were many speculations concerning the root cause of the incident and how it unfolded, so far, no official statement has been released. The video adds some more evidence about what happened while the official investigation proceeds. Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy is working on the recovery of the 5th gen aircraft from the bottom of the sea.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

Italian F-35s Will Get AIM-9X Block II Air-To-Air Missiles

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Italian F-35 AIM-9X
An Italian Air Force F-35A at Amendola Air Base. (Image credit: David Cenciotti)

The missiles will fill a capability gap caused by the IRIS-T not being integrated with the F-35.

The Naval Air Systems Command’s (NAVAIR) Air-to-Air Missiles Program Office (PMA-259) just announced that Italy became the 28th Air Intercept Missile (AIM)-9X International Partner on Dec. 17, 2021. The new air-to-air missile will equip the F-35 Lightning II fighter jets of both the Italian Air Force and Italian Navy, which until now had to count on the AIM-120C AMRAAM as their only air-to-air missile.

The Italian Embassy in Washington D.C. notified the Navy International Programs Office that the Italian Air Force accepted and signed the Letter of Offer & Acceptance (LOA) which was provided by the United States Government earlier last year. As mentioned in the press release, the letter was signed on November 19 and shortly after representatives from PMA-259 and Raytheon presented the AIM-9X Block II/II+ Classified Capabilities Briefing to Italian Headquarters Air Force Staff and F-35 Lightning II pilots.

NAVAIR did not provide info about the number of weapons and the economic amount of the deal, other than mentioning that the LOA consists of “a modest quantity” of AIM-9X Block II/II+ missiles to complement the Italian Air Force F-35 fleet. The missiles acquired by Italy will be part of the U. S. Navy’s Lot 23 Production Contract which will be awarded in 2023, with the delivery of the missiles scheduled for 2026.

The Italian Navy has been provided with a separate LOA for the AIM-9X that will equip its F-35Bs and is expected to accept it soon. As the ones for the Air Force, the missiles will be in the Block II/II+ variant part of Lot 23. While not specified, it is safe to assume that the delivery of the Navy’s missiles will be in 2026 too.

The AIM-9X Sidewinder is the latest of the Sidewinder family of short-range air-to-air missiles, featuring a high off-boresight focal-plane array seeker mounted on a highly maneuverable airframe with a greatly improved infrared counter-countermeasures. The AIM-9X incorporates many AIM-9LM legacy components (rocket motor, warhead and active optical target detector), but with performance far exceeding the legacy Sidewinder.

The AIM-9X Block II, which is part of this deal, is considered the most advanced short range air-air missile in the U.S. inventory, capable of using its datalink, thrust vectoring maneuverability, and advanced imaging infrared seeker to hit targets even behind the launching fighter thanks to the Lock-On-After-Launch capability. Unlike previous AIM-9 models, the AIM-9X Block II/II+ can even be used against targets on the ground.

Royal Netherlands Air Force’s F-35A in “Beast Mode”, with AIM-9Xs under the wingtips. (Photo: Frank Crebas)

Italy already operates two types of short-range air-to-air missiles: the AIM-9L (for Tornado, AMX and AV-8B+) and the IRIS-T (for the Eurofighter Typhoon).  However neither of those could be used with the 5th gen aircraft. This left the Italian F-35s with only one air-to-air weapon, the AIM-120, available for the Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) duty. As a sidenote, the Italian F-35s covered this role as part of the National Air Defense since 2018, shortly after becoming the first in Europe to declare the Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

Since 2019, the F-35s have also been involved in multiple NATO Air Policing missions, the last of which was the Enhanced Air Policing at Ämari Air Base in Estonia last summer. From Jan. 27, 2022 the ItAF is contributing to the NATO QRA with its Lightning II jets. Much like the Eurofighters, the F-35 in QRA will be under the control of the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) which, if needed, can launch a scramble to intercept and identify any suspect aircraft.

An Italian F-35 in Quick Reaction Alert. Notice the AIM-120 in weapon bay. (Photo: Italian Air Force)

Back to the AIM-9X, the signing of the LOA will allow Italy to equip its aircraft with both the AIM-120 in the internal weapon bays and the AIM-9X under the wingtips’ rails, like other international F-35 users. Italy is not the only user who had to resort to this solution, with a very similar situation happening also to Norway some years ago. Norway, like Italy, used the IRIS-T on its recently retired F-16s, however in 2015 a deal to acquire the AIM-9X was signed as the European missile was not available for the F-35.

The IRIS-T was initially scheduled for integration on the F-35, with Norway sponsoring an initial study preparatory for the works, but for unknown reason the integration did not go ahead. A future integration might still be on the table however, as Greece is another IRIS-T user that will receive F-35s. Moreover, Germany and Spain, two other IRIS-T users, are still reportedly interested in the acquisition of the F-35, taking the total to five nations possibly interested in the continuation of the integration of the IRIS-T on the 5th gen. aircraft.

Stefano D’Urso is a contributor for TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. He’s a full-time engineering student and aspiring pilot. In his spare time he’s also an amateur aviation photographer and flight simulation enthusiast.

Italian Navy And Air Force’s F-35Bs Carry Out Joint Training On Pantelleria Island

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F-35B Italian Navy
The Italian Navy and Air Force F-35Bs during the exercise at Pantelleria airport. (All images: Matteo Buono)

The F-35Bs of the two services continue to operate together as further integration looms.

After spending years “fighting” each other to get more F-35Bs, the “honeymoon” (as the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Luca Goretti dubbed it) between the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) and the Marina Militare (Italian Navy) continues. On Jan. 27, 2022, a joint exercise involving the two F-35B STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) assets of both services took place on Pantelleria Island.

The exercise on the tiny island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea was aimed at increasing the integration between the Air Force and Navy’s fifth generation multirole aircraft while developing the expeditionary capacity from a land-base through the use of an “austere” airfield not suitable for flight operations of conventional take-off aircraft. The Chief of Defense Staff, Adm. Giuseppe Cavo Dragone, the Chief of Staff of the Navy, Adm. Enrico Credendino and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Goretti attended the event.

We were invited to take part in the event and our contributor Matteo Buono flew to Pantelleria to take the photographs you can find in this article.

The Italian Navy F-35B.

“The goal is to achieve an expeditionary capacity both from land and from sea [aircraft carrier] by using the F-35B assets of the Navy and the Air Force in an integrated and synergistic manner, in compliance with the prerogatives of the Chiefs of the Armed Forces. There will be increasingly profitable synergies that will allow a unified use of the STOVL capacity: depending on the domain, the F-35Bs will be put under the operational control of one or the other service, always responding to the Joint Chief of Staff”, Adm. Cavo Dragone said.

Italy will not adopt the British model, meaning that there won’t be a Lightning Force with a joint Squadron equipped with F-35Bs jointly flown and maintained: the Italians aim at a “joint capability” with the Italian Air Force and Navy operating their own aircraft in their own units. However, when needed, the F-35Bs of both services will integrate and operate under a single chain of command from land-bases or from an aircraft carrier or landing helicopter dock (like the LHD Trieste that will be ready to accommodate the aircraft next year) by means of a TOA (Transfer Of Authority).

Overall, the Aeronautica Militare and Marina Militare will operate 15 F-35Bs each: the Air Force will use the Lightning II to replace the AMX (that is going to be retired this year), while the Navy will use the 5th generation aircraft to replace the AV-8B+ Harrier II (whose retirement is planned for 2024-2025, by the time the naval service will be equipped with at least 8 F-35Bs).

The next F-35B to be delivered to the Italian MOD will be assigned to the Italian Air Force that operates just one STOVL Lightning II at the moment.

The training event on Pantelleria last week follows the drills carried out in November 2021 that saw the first landing of an F-35B of the Italian Air Force on the Italian Navy aircraft carrier Cavour; the first integration aboard the carrier by the Italian Air Force and Navy’s F-35Bs; the first landing of the Italian F-35Bs aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Italian Navy F-35B prepares for take off after the hot pit refueling.

More in detail, the two F-35Bs landed at the “expeditionary” airfield, Pantelleria Airport, and carried out a “hot-pit” refueling taking gas from a KC-130J aircraft of the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) from Pisa, through the ALARP system (Air Landed Aircraft Refueling Point).

The KC-130J that refueled the F-35Bs through the ALARP system ALARP (Air Landed Aircraft Refueling Point) system.

After the ground refueling, the two F-35Bs took off again and joined two Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon to conduct a COMAO, Composite Air Operation. The latter included Close Air Support (CAS) to the Surface Forces through ground JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) and aerial interdiction with strategic and tactical management carried out by the G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft of the 14° Stormo (Wing). The COMAO was supported by a KC-767A aircraft.

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.