Eglin Prepares to Open F-35 Training Center

By Jean, Grace V. | National Defense, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Eglin Prepares to Open F-35 Training Center


Jean, Grace V., National Defense


FORT WORTH, Texas -- Lockheed Martin Corp. is building a high-tech training center at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., which will be used by all F-35 pilots and maintainers. The facility, scheduled to be completed in 2010, will house full-motion simulators, computer-based training classrooms and portable training devices.

"We want to produce a mission-qualified pilot and a mission-qualified maintainer," says Peter Walker, project manager for Lockheed Martin Simulations, Training and Support. Even though there are three variants of the aircraft and nine different countries involved with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, 70 percent of the training is common, he adds.

The full-motion simulation will have a bonafide F-35 cockpit surrounded by a dome to hone pilots' skills. It will be connected to other trainers on site via a local area network for formation flying and it also can connect to other Air Force systems for virtual war gaming events.

Lockheed also is developing a scaled-down version of the full-motion simulation. Configured for two pilots, the deployment mission rehearsal trainer will be housed in a standard 8-foot by 8-foot by 20-foot military container. Every fighter squadron will receive one so pilots can conduct mission rehearsals when they are deployed, even aboard aircraft carriers and amphibious ships. The Navy and Marine Corps are in the process of allocating space for the trainers.

"It allows you to do all this training that's never gone on a carrier before," says Steve O'Bryan, a former Navy F-18 pilot who is on the F-35 business development team. Deployed naval and Marine pilots must be flown back to the States to re-qualify on skills that may have expired. Having a simulator on board the ship will reduce the need to fly pilots home for refresh training, he says.

At the integrated training center, Joint Strike Fighter student pilots will check out laptop computers and throttle-and-stick controllers to continue learning how to operate the F-35 from the comfort of their homes. The laptops will have touch-screen and voice recognition capabilities, just as pilots will have in the fighter cockpit on the 8-inch by 20-inch display. "The kids are actually going to take this home and mess around with it on their own time," says Jason McAlister with Lockheed's F-35 pilot training program.

The software will walk student pilots through the basic functions of the aircraft, such as operating the communications systems and setting the autopilot. …

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