…And they have the video to prove it!
The 62d Fighter Squadron proudly graduated its first ever F-35 B-Course this past Saturday 13 January 2018. Class 17-BBL was the second ever F-35 B-Course and the first all lieutenant class, making them the Air Force’s youngest F-35 wingmen.
The 62d FS has played important role throughout history developing and training fighter pilots dating back to WWII. Within two years of its constitution on 20 November 1940, the 62d Pursuit Squadron had shot down 357 enemy aircraft and produced 8 fighter Aces. After WWII the Spikes returned to the states and flew 13 different aircraft in a number of conflicts.
Fast forward, in 2015 the Spikes received their first F-35 Lightning II at a price tag just over 90 Million dollars in the pursuit of training a new era of 5th generation fighter pilots.
Since that day, the Spikes have been making history and consistently setting records for F-35 operations. Across the F-35 community, the 62nd has set records for sorties in one day (28), one week (112), and one month (371). At Luke, the 62nd was also the first F-35 squadron to drop GBU-31 JDAMs, employ flares, and utilize a 3-go turn schedule to maximize Pilot Formal Training.
A unit made up of more than just USAF Airmen
One critical component to the success that the squadron has enjoyed during its initial foray into 5th-generation pilot training has been the tri-national structure of the squadron itself. The 62nd is comprised of three Nations, the United States of America, Norway and Italy, to provide world class flying instruction from a variety of different backgrounds and knowledge bases. The mixed knowledge and different takes on airmanship provided by the instructors is critical to the success of the mission here at the 62nd, ensuring that the Spikes will be able to continue setting records and executing at the highest level for years to come.
In May 2017, the 62nd welcomed its first ever initial qualification class, or B-Course. Over these past 9 months the perseverance and hard work of its instructor pilots and support personnel, along with the support from family, friends, and loved resulted in the first ever Spike Lightning Driver B-Course.
“Contrary to what you may read or see on the internet, news, or social media accounts, the F-35 has taken our class by surprise in a good way,” said new graduate Buck “Reno” Horn. “ Being in on a program this new has allowed us to discover new capabilities on each sortie right alongside our instructors and partner nations. We find every day that the jet is good at what it does, far better than most expected. The situational awareness alone, gives F-35 pilots a huge leg up against its competition, especially when they don’t even know you’re there.”
These 6 LT’s will go onto follow on training and eventually find themselves at Hill AFB to join the two newest F-35 fully combat capable squadrons.
Spike Aces… 357 and Counting!!!