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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

First F-35 arrives at Eglin AFB in Florida

The first F-35 stealth bomber has arrived at Eglin Air Force base in Florida (Hat Tip: Sunlight).
The Department of Defense's first F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter touched down at its new home here July 14, marking a major milestone in the nation's military history.

Upon arrival, the jet officially became part of the Air Force inventory. It now belongs to the JSF training unit, the 33rd Fighter Wing.

Flying it in was Lt. Col. Eric Smith of the 58th Fighter Squadron, the first Air Force qualified F-35 pilot.

"It was a smooth ride in," said the colonel of the hour and 40 minute flight. "The jet behaved awesomely. I'm just so proud to bring it home to Eglin (Air Force Base)."
It should only continue to go well.

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At 6:18 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

Any chance Israel will get a few of these beauties??

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

JitD - At first they were talking about Israel only getting a package deal or nothing. Looks like they have changed that and are going to let Israel hack in their own electronics. Usually the US worries about "export" ITAR control because the technology upgrades the purchasers' capabilities. In the case of Israel, it seems that only having the standard technology installed would downgrade Israel's capability! Hopefully, the US and Israel have a team approach to optimizing capabilities for the allies.

Israel, U.S. Strike F-35 Technology Deal

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

According to that article in Aviation Week (generally considered a pretty authoritative industry publication), Israel is looking at an initial purchase of 20 F-35s and an eventual total of 75. 20 F-35s, with F-15s and the latest specially-modified-for-Israel Super-F-16s, would seem to continue to give Israel the aircraft for the solidly superior Air Force it must have.

Not that the IAF hasn't done a very thorough, successful job defending Israel with it's F-15s and F-16s. (The "Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot", aka Operation Mole Cricket) Here's a couple of interesting quotes from Wiki:

"The F-15 in all air forces had a combined air-to-air combat record of 104 kills to 0 losses as of February 2008.[63] No air superiority versions of the F-15 (A/B/C/D models) have been shot down by enemy forces. Over half of F-15 kills were achieved by Israeli Air Force pilots." [Not bad, eh!]

"The first F-15 kill was scored by IAF ace Moshe Melnik in 1979.[37] In 1979–81, during Israeli raids against Palestinian factions based in Lebanon, F-15As downed 13 Syrian MiG-21 "Fishbeds" and two Syrian MiG-25 "Foxbats", the latter being the aircraft the F-15 was designed to kill. Israeli F-15As and Bs participated as escorts in Operation Opera and served during the 1982 Lebanon War. During the latter, Israeli F-15s shot down 40 Syrian jet fighters (23 MiG-21 "Fishbeds" and 17 MiG-23 "Floggers") and one Syrian SA.342L Gazelle helicopter.[38] Later during 1985, IAF Eagles, in Operation Wooden Leg, bombed the PLO headquarters in Tunisia.[39] This was one of the few times air superiority F-15s (A/B/C/D models) were used in tactical strike missions."


"The F-16's first air-to-air combat success was achieved by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) over the Bekaa Valley on 28 April 1981, against a Syrian Mi-8 helicopter, which was downed with cannon fire.[71] On 7 June 1981, eight Israeli F-16s, escorted by F-15s, executed Operation Opera, their first employment in a significant air-to-ground operation. This raid severely damaged Osirak, an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad, to prevent the regime of Saddam Hussein from using the reactor for the creation of nuclear weapons.[72]

The following year, during Operation Peace for Galilee (Lebanon War) Israeli F-16s engaged Syrian aircraft in one of the largest air battles involving jet aircraft, which began on 9 June and continued for two more days. Israeli Air Force F-16s were credited with numerous air-to-air kills during the conflict." [And 0 Israeli AF F-16 losses, I believe. The USAF did lose several to Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles in the two Gulf Wars, but never any in dogfights.]

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Well, Dave, in the ancient times, the IDF/IAF got a consignment of junkyard F-4s. They hacked and rebuilt them into something better than anyone else had. People still talk about it. So, if the U.S. wants the best, we'll be working on a team with these guys to put together the best of the best for both Air Forces. One Israeli guy I know says that the Israeli fighter pilots are more "arrogant" (his word, not mine) than even the U.S. fighter pilots. He said they've earned it. I, of course, would take exception to that characterization. That they are arrogant? or that they've earned it? You'll just have to guess! :)

At 11:23 PM, Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Well, Sunlight, fighter pilots of just about all nations' services are generally known for their, um, air of superiority and macho attitudes. One admiring but exasperated WW2 US Army general said, referring to fighter pilots of all the US branches, something to the effect that they ought to store those SOBs in the deep freeze and only thaw them out when needed in wartime.

There was also an interesting follow-up to Winston Churchill's tribute to the RAF fighter pilots that won the Battle of Britain, "Never in history, have so many owed so much to so few." A straight-laced member of Churchill's cabinet remarked to him about the wild drinking and lechery carrying-on most of those fighter pilots did when off-duty.

Given the grinding day-after-day, week-after-week combat those brave guys went through, never knowing if they'd even be alive the same time tomorrow, I think I'd have felt the need to blow off a lot of steam too. Probably thinking exactly that, Churchill replied, "I didn't say they're Saints, I said they are Heroes."

Speaking as an ex-USAF aircraft tech who knew a lot of pilots, I'd say yeah, a certain swagger that's earned is often a fair description. It's probably psychologically necessary for them to have that attitude to do their incredibly demanding job, do it well, and survive. I don't think I'd want my daughter to marry one, but thank G-d we've got 'em! :-)


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