The US Air Force's 33rd Fighter Wing (FW) has completed flying the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter's operational utility evaluation (OUE) at Eglin AFB, Florida.
Flying operations were completed on 14 November, the USAF confirms, saying: "The last of 24 OUE sorties was completed this afternoon."
The operational utility evaluation involved the USAF's 33rd Fighter Wing
There were four "student" pilots undergoing transition training to the F-35 as part of the activity. Two are operational evaluators from the Pentagon's Joint Operational Test Team, with the others being initial cadre pilots from the 33rd FW. Each student had to complete six flights as part of the transition course, along with simulator rides and an academics phase.
"The AFOTEC [Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center] will certify the OUE is complete in the near future," the USAF says.
The operational testers will now compile a report on the readiness of the F-35 and the training syllabus at the 33rd FW for Air Education and Training Command (AETC).
If AETC commander Gen Edward Rice is satisfied that the Eglin unit and the F-35 are ready to start normal training operations, he will give his assent to formally start training at the sea-side base. That decision is expected early next year.