Saturday, December 10, 2022

Lockheed Martin trained the 1,000th pilot for the F-35 program

Lockheed Martin has reported that it trained the 1,000th pilot and 9,000th maintainer for the F-35 Lightning II program.

“These milestones are a testament to the maturity and capability of the F-35 global training enterprise,” said Chauncey McIntosh, Lockheed Martin, vice president of F-35 Training and Logistics. “Our mission is to produce world class pilots and maintainers around the world.”

The F-35 presents new ways to tactically employ and requires pilots to master new competencies. Pilots train for a broad range of air-to-air, air-to-ground and electronic warfare missions in the simulator.


The fidelity of the Full Mission Simulators currently allows about half of initial training flights to be accomplished virtually. The syllabus includes technology-driven academics, flights in the Full Mission Simulator and live flights in the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin is providing F-35 pilots the training they need to fly safely and confidently to conduct their missions – the first time and every time.

Behind every pilot’s mission are the maintainers who make it possible. These men and women repair, inspect and modify the aircraft to ensure safe and effective functioning during flight operations. They are trusted advisors and analysts who gather flight data to make informed decisions letting F-35 pilots know their aircraft is fit for flight.

Because of the aircraft’s computing power, F-35 maintainers must bring a high level of technical expertise to their jobs. Maintainers rotate from the classroom to training devices to develop an in-depth understanding of the F-35 weapon system.

The mix of simulation and flight line training varies per maintenance specialty. Currently across all disciplines, 70 percent of training occurs during computer-based courses and hands-on exercises with simulators.

Aircraft readiness also benefits with simulation-based training as some training tasks are intrusive, like removing and replacing components, and can render an aircraft non-mission capable until the training is complete. In this sense, the virtual training preserves aircraft readiness and produces a warfighter that is ready to support the unit’s mission sooner.

More than 9,000 maintainers and 1,000 pilots have graduated from the F-35 Training System to date. Thirteen Military Services and 10 nations are currently training – the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, the U.K. Royal Air Force and Royal Navy, Australia, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and South Korea.

“This program will continue to grow as more Foreign Military Sales customers around the globe procure the F-35,” said F-35 Training Operations Manager David “Sly” Fox. “The key to success for our training systems is to continue to look at technological advances that will enable us to efficiently update our training capability to mirror the increased capabilities of the F-35 Air Vehicle.”

Lockheed Martin is now working to connect F-35 Full Mission Simulators to a number of military training networks at the USAF weapons school this year, enabling F-35 pilots to train across locations and with other platforms. This Distributed Mission Training (DMT) capability for the F-35 creates interoperability across military platforms for continuation training and large force exercises, all while presenting a train-as-you-fight environment.

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About this Author

Dylan Malyasov
Defense journalist and commentator. Aviation photographer. Dylan leads Defence Blog's coverage of global military news, focusing on engineering and technology across the U.S. defense industry.