Gearing Up for F-35A Operations

U.S. Air Force pilots at Hill Air Force Base rehearse and refine advanced tactics in linked simulators.

As the U.S. Air Force prepares for initial F-35 Lightning II operations, pilots at Hill Air Force Base are rehearsing missions with Full Mission Simulators delivered by Lockheed Martin.

Pilots are now training with four Full Mission Simulators linked together to hone their tactical employment of the F-35 against ground and airborne threats. As a complement to live flights, the Full Mission Simulators present a secure, realistic environment for pilots to develop tactics and integrate the F-35 into the Air Force’s arsenal.

The 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base is the first operational F-35A squadron and will reach combat readiness this year.

“The F-35 is going to be an incredible advancement in our capability as an Air Force, and the Full Mission Simulators present an environment to adequately challenge our pilots as they prepare for combat,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, 34th Fighter Squadron Commander. 

The Full Mission Simulators are the centerpiece of the F-35 Training System designed to maximize simulation for effectiveness and affordability. Pilots rehearse missions and tactics from a simulator cockpit with a 360-degree dome and 25 projectors that display a visual scene equal to a seamless 1080p HDTV.

The F-35 Full Mission Simulator uses 10 million lines of code in its software, while the F-35 aircraft relies on eight million lines.

The visual scene is backed by a computer that processes the 10 million lines of software used in the Full Mission Simulator. The F-35 aircraft has eight million lines of code – more than four times the amount of the F-22 Raptor. An additional two million lines of code power the Full Mission Simulator to present computer-generated ground and airborne entities that act like foes and friendly forces.

“All the pieces of the technology puzzle are coming together to support the Air Force’s F-35 mission readiness,” said Mary Ann Horter, vice president of F-35 Sustainment Support at Lockheed Martin. “Airmen at Hill Air Force Base are launching the future of aviation, and our focus is supporting them with the most effective training and logistics technologies.”

The F-35 program is built on extensive industrial participation to generate economic growth in F-35 nations and deliver the best value. Currently, 191 suppliers contribute to the F-35 Training System.