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    F-35 Lightning II Soars Past 100,000 Sorties Mark at Luke AFB

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    Dayton Air Show 06-24-2017 29 – F-35 Lightning II” by David441491 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The F-35 Lightning II, an unparalleled fifth-generation combat aircraft, recently soared into the history books at Luke Air Force Base (AFB) in Arizona, where the 56th Fighter Wing celebrated its 100,000th sortie.

    CGI: A F-35 Lightning II Landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    This momentous flight, undertaken by Captain Garrett Ellis of the 308th Fighter Squadron on May 9, 2024, represents a major operational milestone for the F-35 program and showcases its growing maturity.

    An F-35 Lightning II completes a flyover of USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000).” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB has the distinction of being the world’s largest F-35 wing and is integral to the training of pilots for combat readiness.

    Israel Receives First Two F-35 Fighters” by U.S. Embassy Jerusalem is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    With the program’s expansion, pilots at Luke AFB undergo an intensive regimen including hundreds of academic hours and over 80 simulator and flying missions.

    Goodbye Edwards, (Lockheed Martin F-35 ‘Lightning II’ ‘Joint Strike Fighter’s’ depart), hello Nellis.” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Colonel Matthew Johnston, 56th Operations Group commander, proudly stated, “The 100,000th F-35 sortie here at Luke symbolizes the professional work and excellence of the whole Luke team.”

    F-16 Fighting Falcon 003” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    But the milestone extends beyond flying hours. The 56th Maintenance Group at Luke AFB also received commendation for its decade-long commitment to aircraft maintenance, ensuring that the wing’s F-16s and F-35s are mission-ready.

    F-35 Lightning II completes Edwards testing” by MultiplyLeadership is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Colonel Adam DiGerolamo, 56th MXG commander, emphasized the group’s dedication to meeting mission and training requirements, a testament to their sustained effort and achievement in reaching this significant sortie milestone.

    F-35 Lightning” by Heath Cajandig is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Simultaneously, Lockheed Martin celebrated the production of the 1,000th F-35, a testament to the aircraft’s global influence and operational prowess.

    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Lightning II” by Dysanovic is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    “There are now more F-35s in service than all other stealth aircraft combined,” underscoring the broad adoption of the aircraft by multiple allied nations.

    Testflyging av første norske F-35” by Forsvarsdepartementet is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    In parallel developments, the Pentagon officially cleared the F-35 for full-rate production, a decision that Lockheed Martin has anticipated for years. William LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, highlighted the aircraft’s stability and agility in his statement approving the Milestone C decision.

    An F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Fighting Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, flies alongside an Italian marine F-35 Lightning II and an AV-8B II+ Harrier in support of NATO-led activity Neptune Shield 22.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The full-scale production authorization is seen as a nod to the program’s success and a signal to the services, partners, and foreign military sales customers of the F-35’s robust capabilities.

    Latvijā pirmo reizi nosēdušies ASV iznīcinātāji ‘F-35’” by Latvijas armija is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    However, this achievement is not without its challenges. The program faces delays related to the integration of the Tech Refresh 3 (TR-3) upgrades, essential for the Block 4 advancements.

    Lockheed Martin assured that production continues at a steady rate and that jets, including the milestone 1,000th F-35, await the necessary TR-3 hardware and software before they can be delivered.

    Despite these hiccups, the F-35 Lightning II program is a remarkable story of perseverance, advancement, and unprecedented global partnership.

    Italian Air Force F-35” by usembvienna is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    With more than 773,000 flying hours and 469,000 total sorties recorded, the F-35 continues to affirm its place as the most technologically sophisticated fighter jet in service, ready to meet the diverse threats of the modern battlefield.

    Relevant articles:
    The F-35 Fighter Just Hit Another Major Milestone: 469,000 Sorties, The National Interest
    Pentagon clears F-35 for full-rate production, defensenews.com
    Lockheed Martin has now built 1,000 F-35s, Sandboxx
    The 1,000th F-35 Has Been Built, The War Zone

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