Tag Archives: F-35

Meet the U.S. Air Force Reserve’s First Female F-35A Lightning II Pilot

USAF Reserve Col. Regina Sabric Is Also Commander of 419th Fighter Wing.

Colonel Regina Sabric, callsign “Torch”, of Tobyhanna, Pennsylvania has become the first female Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.

Col. Sabric is also commander of the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB in Utah, a unit she assumed command of in April of 2018.

Col. Sabric brings extensive tactical, combat and even special operations aviation experience to the F-35A and the 419th Wing having well over 2,500 hours flying experience across 10 different aircraft in 22 years. Sabric has flown the T-34, T-39, T-1 and T-37 trainers. She also flew the T-38 Talon in an aggressor simulation role and the AT-38. She has experience in the F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, including as an instructor in the F-16. Her perspective as a tactical combat pilot in the evolving aerial battlefield includes time flying the MQ-9 Predator remotely piloted aircraft and the secretive C-146 special operations transport when she served as commander of the 919th Special Operations Group. Sabric also served as Chief, Combat Air Forces Requirements for the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon in Washington D.C.

Her operational experience includes Operations Allied Force and Enduring Freedom, and several deployments for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle, the combined U.S. and Canadian homeland security mission flown over the continental U.S. to provide security against terrorist threats to key infrastructure targets.

Sabric is a 1995 graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. She also earned a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from American Military University.

tps://theaviationist.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/First_Female_Reserve_F35_10.jpg”> Col. Regina Sabric with an F-35A Lighting II of the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah. (Photo: USAF Photo by Todd Cromar.)

[/caption]In her role as commander of the 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB she is in command of 1,200 Reserve Citizen Airmen who train in F-35A Joint Strike Fighter operations, maintenance and mission support in addition to a medical squadron that supports the unit. The 419th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB is the only U.S. Air Force Reserve F-35A unit.

“My family can tell you I wanted to be a fighter pilot forever. I’ve always been fascinated by air and space.” Sabric told the Air Force Reserve Command media. “My dad was a private pilot, so he took me to an airshow when I was a little girl, and I remember looking up at those planes and being amazed. Ever since then I knew I was going to be a pilot.”

As a teenager, Regina Sabric went to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, an immersive educational experience for aspiring young women and men. She went on to earn a private pilot’s license during college.

Sabric regards her extensive education, career and experience in aviation as an advantage, “I don’t have a typical flying career. I’ve had the opportunity to bounce around with different aircraft and mission sets. I think it’s made me a better pilot because I’ve had the opportunity to experience so much outside the fighter world.”

Given Col. Sabric’s eclectic background in aviation and her command of the 419th Wing along with her qualification in the F-35A, she joins the most elite level of combat pilots in the world. There are only three women flying the F-35A Lightning II in the active duty Air Force. Col. Sabric is the first and only woman currently in the Air Force Reserve flying the F-35A. She is reserved about her experience though, especially in the F-35A.

“I’m still new in the airplane. Every sortie you learn something new, so as I continue to fly I’ll continue to learn. What the F-35A brings to the fight now, it’s lightyears beyond fourth-generation aircraft.”

U.S. Navy Reports F-35C Lightning II and F/A-18F Damaged During Inflight Refueling Accident

Both Aircraft Landed Safely, but “Class A” Damage Sustained by F-35C in Accident.

A U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning II was damaged during a midair refueling exercise with an F/A-18F Super Hornet over the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday according to a statement released by the Naval Air Forces Atlantic spokesman Commander Dave Hecht to United States Naval Institute News (USNI).

The F-35C, the naval variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, was flying from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). The F-35C involved in the accident returned to the aircraft carrier and landed safely aboard ship following the accident. The F/A-18F Super Hornet landed at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia following the accident.

The report in USNI indicated the F-35C Lightning II was from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, the “Rough Raiders” on board the USS Lincoln. The F/A-18F Super Hornet involved in the accident was from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 103, the “Jolly Rogers”.

The F-35C sustained engine damage during the accident when debris from the aerial refueling drogue being trailed by the F/A-18F Super Hornet serving as the tanker aircraft became ingested into the F-35C’s engine. There were no injuries and an official investigation is pending according to U.S. Navy sources.

The damage to the F-35C was categorized as a “Class A Mishap”, the most extensive level of damage for a military aircraft. Class A mishaps occur when an aircraft is completely destroyed, involves a serious injury or fatality or the aircraft itself sustains more than $2 million in damage. If the F-35C’s engine, a Pratt & Whitney F135 jet engine, the most powerful and advanced in its class, were destroyed in the accident it could cost as much as $14 million to replace it not including any additional damage to the aircraft’s airframe or avionics.

Damage to the F/A-18F Super Hornet was reported to be less severe and categorized as a “Class C” mishap with no injuries and damage reported to be between $50,000 and $500,000 USD according to Commander Dave Hecht.

The two aircraft involved in the accident were operating over the Atlantic and from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln as part of an integrated air wing test. The series of tests at sea are a realistic simulation, test and training exercise of how the new Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter naval variant will interface with other combat and support aircraft from the USS Abraham Lincoln.

U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Dale Horan told reporters on board the USS Abraham Lincoln last week that the operations underway were validating how the F-35C, “Integrates with the ship, how it interoperates with communications, data links, other aircraft, and then how we conduct the mission and tie into the other aircraft that are conducting that mission and how effective they are when they do it.” Rear Admiral Horan is the director of Joint Strike Fighter Fleet Integration for the Navy.

Two U.S. Navy units are operating the new F-35C Lightning II from the USS Abraham Lincoln during the exercise, VFA-125, the “Rough Raiders” from Naval Air Station Lemoore, California and VFA-147, the “Argonauts” also from NSA Lemoore.

Prior to today’s accident the U.S. Navy forecasted that the F-35C would achieve initial operational capability (IOC) sometime in February of 2019. In order to achieve that level of operational readiness the Navy will have to demonstrate the ability to successfully operate ten F-35Cs at sea, including all support and logistical operations to maintain F-35C operations.

Of the three U.S. forces operating the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; the USAF with the F-35A, the U.S. Marines with the F-35B STOVL variant and the U.S. Navy with the wider-wingspan F-35C model, the U.S. Navy has been the last to enter the IOC phase of operations. Some analysts suggest this is partially because of the demands placed on the Navy’s F-35C by catapult launches and arrested landings on Navy aircraft carriers.

Top Image: The accident was the first Class A mishap for a U.S. Navy F-35C Lighting II. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

F-35A Nose Gear Collapses After Parking Following Emergency Landing At Eglin Air Force Base

A “ground mishap” has just occurred to an F-35A Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base. Nose gear collapse

Just in from 33rd FW: “An F-35A Lightning II, assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, experienced a ground mishap at approximately 12:50 p.m. today on the flightline here. The F-35A experienced an in-flight emergency and returned to base. The aircraft landed safely and parked when the front nose gear collapsed. There was one person on board. Fire crews responded immediately and the pilot suffered no injuries as a result of the incident. An investigation into the circumstances surrounding the mishap is underway.”

A photograph, taken by a motorist from a road near the incident location, of the aircraft nose down next to the runway was published by local news outlet.

Image credit: Michael Snyder/Daily News

The extent of the damage (and the subsequent cost) is unknown (the aircraft’s Electro-Optical Targeting System  – EOTS – might be heavily damaged). Nor is it clear the type of emergency that forced the F-35A to return to Eglin AFB where it suffered the gear collapse.

Two F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters were due to depart Eglin AFB in Florida on Thursday morning, August 23, 2018, for the Thunder Over Michigan airshow at Willow Run Airport in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Public Affairs officers at Eglin AFB have verified that the F-35A involved in today’s incident is not one of the two aircraft to be displayed at the airshow this weekend.

There have been two other significant incidents with the aircraft including an engine fire on an F-35A on Sept. 23, 2016 at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho and on Oct. 27, 2016 when an F-35B part of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 caught fire in the internal weapons bay causing significant damage. The ground incident at Mountain Home AFB was attributed to strong winds blowing into the afterburner outlet of the aircraft.

We will provide further updates as soon as they are released.

Written with Tom Demerly

Top image: File photo of an F-35A Lightning II departs for Exercise Red Flag 17-3 July 6, 2017, at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Peter Thompson/Released)

 

President Trump Blocks Sale of F-35s to Turkey, Deepens Rift in Turkish/U.S. Relations.

Turkey Would Have Operated Both the F-35 and the Russian Engineered S-400 Missile System.

On Monday, August 13, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the new John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Named as a tribute to Arizona Senator John McCain, who is afflicted with brain cancer, the bill includes provisions that have significant implications for one of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s largest potential program participants.

In fact, the massive $716 billion U.S. Dollar defense bill, as currently written, will prevent U.S. weapons sales to Turkey for 90 days. Within the 3-month period, the DoD will have to detail how Turkey can be phased out of the production chain of the F-35 and how much this change of plans will cost the U.S. and other countries.

Turkey had planned to purchase 100 of the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II conventional takeoff and landing variants of the Joint Strike Fighter, the same version used by the U.S. Air Force. Other countries participating in the Joint Strike Fighter Program include Australia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and South Korea. Ten Turkish companies are involved in the development and/or production of the 5th generation aircraft, with a total Turkish investment of more than $1 billion.

The move comes as Turkish pilots are already training in the United States to operate the F-35A at Luke AFB near Phoenix, Arizona. The training of the Turkish F-35 personnel will continue until the DoD report requested by the NDAA has been submitted to Congress for their decision on the way forward.

There are two Turkish F-35As based at Luke for the Turkish training program along with other international F-35 operators. According to a July 2, 2018 report by Air Force Times journalist Tara Copp, the Turkish F-35As, “will remain in U.S. custody for at least the next year.”

Chased by a LM two-seat F-16 the first F-35A destined to the Turkish Air Force flies over Ft. Worth. (Photo: High Brass Photo/Clinton White)

Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Robert Manning told reporters, “Following established agreements, the U.S. government maintains custody of the aircraft until custody is transferred to the partner.” Manning added, “The U.S. government has not made a determination on Turkey’s future participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program.”

The decision to delay the F-35A deliveries adds to increasing tension between Washington and the Turkish government in Ankara. Turkey is a key U.S. ally in the region for reasons including its geographic proximity to the middle east. Turkey has also been a member of NATO since 1952. The country is home to Incirlik Air Base, a massive international installation currently home to several thousand U.S. military personnel and an important base for U.S. aircraft operating over Syria and Iraq. The U.S. also stores nuclear weapons at Incirlik as a part of its deterrent strategy in the region. The proximity of the base also provides the U.S. with quick transit to Iran in the event of a crisis. Turkey also controls the passage of naval vessels transiting to and from the Black Sea, a key strategic chokepoint.

The F-35 embargo fans the flames of Turkish discontent after Washington included the country in the recent sweeping round of international trade restrictions issued by the Trump administration.

The tough trade rhetoric from Washington creates frustration not only for Turkey, but also within the U.S. and potentially for other Joint Strike Fighter program participants. Pentagon correspondent to ForeignPolicy.com, Lara Seligman, wrote that, “Several key components of the jet are manufactured by Turkish companies, and the U.S. Defense Department estimates it will take two years to find and qualify new suppliers to replace any Turkish firms that are kicked out of the program. Meanwhile, the main European hub for the F-35’s engine repair and overhaul is in Eskisehir, in northwestern Turkey.” As a result of the engine repair hub being located in Eskisehir, Turkey, maintenance delays for other European users of the F-35 could emerge while other engine repair facility provisions are arranged.

The analysis of Seligman, Copp and others reporting on the F-35 program suggest that the delay in continuing the Turkish F-35A program may be just that, a delay, as opposed to a cancellation. Seligman wrote for ForeignPolicy.com that, “Lawmakers also want the Pentagon to assess the ramifications of Ankara’s planned purchase of the S-400 system.”

A part of the controversy over Turkey’s involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter program is their use of modern Russian designed S-400 anti-aircraft missiles. (Photo: File/NOSINT)

The relatively new Russian-built S-400 “Triumf” Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system has been characterized as an “anti-stealth” air defense system that could specifically threaten the F-35A and its user nations should technology from the aircraft trickle back to Russia as they provide support to Turkey for their S-400 program. The two weapons systems being potentially operated by the same country makes for strange bedfellows. Turkey has a reputation as being a center of international intrigue, including espionage, both in fact and fiction dating back to pre-WWII years. This history underscores concerns about sharing information that may cross borders outside Turkey.

Top image: USAF F-35A. Turkey was slated to receive 100 F-35A Lightning IIs as part of the deal that has been put on hold. (Photo: Tom Demerly/TheAviationist.com)

Take A Look At These Photos Of Luke Air Force Base F-35s Engulfed By Sand Storm

A monsoon hit Luke AFB, Arizona, yesterday. These shots show F-35s being moved to shelters.

Not only are airfields in Afghanistan (such as the former UK’s main strategic base in the southwest Camp Bastion, Helmand) or Niger affected by sandstorms. For instance, fast moving dust storms, able to darken large areas in a very short time, regularly hit Arizona quite regularly. As happened yesterday, when a monsoon hit Luke AFB, about 15 miles west of Phoenix, Arizona, home of the 56th Fighter Wing, the largest fighter wing in the U.S. Air Force.

A thunderstorm collapses and causes air and dust to move through the atmosphere and transform into a sand storm at Nigerien Air Base 201, Niger, June 24, 2018. Air Base 201 was hit by four sandstorms throughout the last two weeks. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Jamison)

Besides some 77 F-16s, Luke is home to 68 F-35s: the base is the training hub for Lightning II’s pilot and maintainers from Australia, Norway, Italy, the Netherlands, Japan and Israel. F-35 pilot training began at Luke just over a year after the 56th Fighter Wing received its first F-35A in 2014 and, according to LM, eventually, the 56th Fighter Wing will be home to 144 F-35s in the future!

The images in this post, first published by the 56th FW on their FB page, show Luke and its F-35s engulfed in dust: a pretty unique sight.

Personnel moved the F-35 to shelter.

An F-35 is secured by personnel at Luke AFB.

The sand storm provided an opportunity for 56th FW’s maintainers, airmen and partners from LM and partner nations to cope with a phenomena the 5th generation aircraft might find one day in theater.

5th generation aircraft engulfed in dust.

It would be interesting to understand the extent of damage (if any!) to the stealth aircraft’s coating, engines, avionics, etc. caused by sand.

BTW If you want to see what a similar scene looks like from inside a C-130J click here.

All images: U.S. Air Force