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Virtual Sim Training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cassidy Woody
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

F-35A Lightning II Instructor Pilots from the 58th Fighter Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., traveled to Fort Worth, Texas, to train on an advanced Block 3F F-35A Lightning II virtual simulator during June, 2018.

The trip gave instructors the opportunity to experience the newest software available from the Block 3F upgrade and to broaden the skills they offer their students.

“The squadron decided to go to the simulator because of the advanced software version the simulator uses and the realism of all the threat models,” said Capt. Zachary Clements, 58 FS assistant chief of weapons.


Currently, Airmen at Eglin AFB train on aircraft with Block 2B software while aircraft used in the combat air force have upgraded to the 3F software system. Eventually, the 3F software will replace the current 2B software in the 33rd Fighter Wing’s F-35As.


"We have to be very smart and deliberate about how we schedule these upgrades,” said Col. Paul Moga, 33 FW commander. “I can't afford to take six aircraft off the line at the same time because I won't be able to fill my training requirements."


Moga went on to say the upgrades will be planned in a phased approach and coincide with other scheduled maintenance. Having pilots train on the new software prior to it arriving at Eglin AFB helps ensure a smooth transition and optimizes time allotted for training student pilots.


The 3F simulator also allows pilots to train with no air space restrictions or maintenance downtime. The simulator provides pilots with more flying time and varied encounters without the delay between missions that would be required while flying at home station.

“We’re able to do three flights a day out there,” said Capt. Matt Powell, 58 FS F-35A instructor pilot. “We’re able to go from one simulator event to the next unlike here where it’s typically one flight a day, maybe two to three flights a week.”

During a second trip, students joined their instructors to supplement their current training. Using the simulators enabled students to train with the software they will encounter in the combat air force.

“The very first F-35s that rolled off the line are here at Eglin and that’s what we’re currently flying,” said Powell. “It is an older hardware and software version than what they’re flying in the CAF. The good thing about the (Fort Worth) simulator is that it is the upgraded software and simulates the hardware on the newer aircraft.”

Powell also said the practice provides instructors with the chance to monitor their students’ progress in real time and tailor their lessons to issues that students encounter, thereby streamlining F-35 pilot training.