The 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron recently completed its initial operational test and evaluation mission and six F-35 Lightning IIs were reassigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
“The F-35 will continue through its operational test program,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Thulin, 31st TES Commander. “We consolidated the fleets at Nellis, so they can launch operationally relevant numbers of instrumented airplanes.”
Completing IOT&E allows for the Full Rate Production (FRP) decision to be made and leads into the production and fielding of more F-35s. The six F-35s is now assigned to the 422nd TES at Nellis. Following the F-35 movement, the 31st TES will continue to work on, or provide support for other test programs, Thulin said.
“We will continue to do operational test of our legacy bomber programs as well as our C2ISR (Command and Control and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) operational test and we’ll posture up for follow-on programs,” Thulin said.
Thulin said the squadron’s success could be attributed to the people that make up the 31st.
“I can’t say enough about the 31st TES members,” he said. “The maintainers, the operators, and the engineers that make up our squadron are the finest group of Americans I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”Edwards Air Force Base, California, said farewell to six of its F-35 Lightning II’s in October. The F-35s were transferred to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to continue initial operational testing.
The F-35 is designed to replace aging fighter inventories including U.S. Air Force F-16s and A-10s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. With stealth and a host of next-generation technologies, the F-35 will be far and away the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter. There exists an aging fleet of tactical aircraft worldwide. The F-35 is intended to solve that problem.