Logistical support training for the F-35 stealth fighter is underway.
More than 100 students began formal training at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida on March 19 to learn how to maintain the long-awaited multi-role aircraft made by Lockheed Martin.
“While celebrating each F-35 Lightning II arrival, the integrated joint strike fighter training team also recently opened the doors for the first Air Force certification courses on the logistical support behind the nation’s newest weapons platform,” the service’s official website reported Tuesday.
The arrival of the F-35 is long-awaited: Development of the aircraft started in the 1990s, although production didn’t begin until 2006. Nine countries, in addition to the U.S., are waiting for Lockheed to fulfill their orders: The United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, Canada, The Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Israel and Japan.
Reuters reported in March that the Pentagon does not expect to achieve operational use of the fighter until after 2016 when certain technological and logistical milestones are reached. The 50-year life of the program is expected to cost the U.S. $1.51 trillion.