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F-35 ATC welcomes 1000th international maintenance student

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Emily Smallwood
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

The F-35 Academic Training Center welcomed its 1,000th international maintenance student, British Royal Air Force Sgt. Matthew Elwood, February 1, 2018, at Eglin Air Force Base.

Elwood, an RAF Marham Aircrew Equipment Assemblies Maintenance Bay senior noncommissioned officer, will spend the next three weeks attending the Survival Equipment Fitter course.

Students attending the SEF course gain a baseline knowledge for the Autonomic Logistics Information System and in-depth hands-on training with aerospace flight equipment used to protect pilots.

According to Elwood, the ATC offers him a more productive learning environment because he’s able to study alongside other nation’s service members.

The ATC is a state of the art facility that trains F-35 pilots from the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and all F-35 maintainers. Since the ATC opened in early 2011, it has graduated more than 5,500 maintainers and 361 pilots across three branches of service and ten participating countries.

When it opened, it served as the sole training facility for pilots and maintainers across the enterprise, and remains the only F-35 maintenance training facility in the world.

Having international military students collocated for training strengthens alliances between the countries and has added fiscal benefits.

“The benefit of the joint aspect is having the same instruction and location,” said Mr. Neil Carlson, ATC International Military Student Officer. “You don’t have multiple school houses that have to be funded and operated. It’s a cost benefit and it’s a good intercultural partner program. They get to work together and build team comradery.”

“This milestone, while it shows how well we have been executing as the doorway to the F-35 world, also serves as a reminder that this global partnership is still growing,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Sean Routier,   F-35 ATC director.

Elwood joins all of the maintenance students and pilots trained at the ATC as a member of a program that emphasizes interoperability and innovation to achieve air dominance now and in the future.

“The students are what make the multinational learning atmosphere here so effective,” Routier said. “They are the concrete that holds this program together.”