The first strike; F-35A Lightning II training engine arrives to Tyndall

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tiffany Del Oso
  • 325 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

As Tyndall Air Force Base continues to transition into one of the most lethal F-35A Lightning II fighter wings in the world, preparation is a constant to ensure the change occurs smoothly.

While pilots are most often the first thing that comes to mind when a fifth-generation fighter jet zooms overhead, it’s the maintainers and ground support that keeps an aircraft airborne. Recently, the first piece of maintenance training equipment arrived at Tyndall - an F1-35 maintenance trainer mock-up.

Rick Sanders, F-35 Joint Program Office propulsion training lead, explained the trainer engine is designed to support a maintenance concept where the jet’s engine module can be removed and replaced in the shadow of the aircraft ramp on the flight line.

Built to mimic a real F-35A Lightning II engine, the trainer engine allows maintainers to practice and master maintenance procedures normally done on the flight line in a safe and controlled environment.

“It’s designed to augment their on-the-ramp training,” said Tech. Sgt. Juan Miranda, 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 204 Field Training Detachment section chief. “Module separation does not occur as often as other day-to-day tasks, so we as a field training detachment, help facilitate that to familiarize them with the task.”

Eventually, maintainers will need to be qualified and signed off on their ability to perform module separation. While the FTD does not sign each individual Airman off on their capabilities, it provides an opportunity for them to experience the process with hands-on instruction.

After the instructors complete an acceptance inspection on the training engine, the FTD will be prepared to provide a 13-day maintenance training course to all incoming maintainers and ground crews meant to support Tyndall’s newest fighter squadrons. The course will consist of three days in a classroom and 10 days of hands-on experience with the training engine and FTD F-35 instructors. 

“Our mission is to make great maintainers and communication better,” stated Tech. Sgt. Martin Carey, 372nd Training Squadron Detachment 219, Field Training Detachment production supervisor. “We’re responsible for delivering highly skilled maintainers to combatant commands with superior technical competence and dedication to the profession of arms.”

As the 325th Fighter Wing continues to evolve and more Airmen begin to arrive in support of the new fifth-generation aircraft, ensuring maintainers and ground crews are prepared to complete their mission remains a top priority.