JASDF Pilots Graduate Luke’s F-35 Program
Two Japan Air Self-Defense Force pilots “Koku-Jieitai,” become the first from their country to graduate the F-35 program here May 20.
The occasion marked the final milestone in a series of firsts made possible by the collective efforts of the JASDF, 944th Fighter Wing, and Lockheed Martin.
“The team worked hard to meticulously build this program from the ground up for this moment,” said Col. Kurt Gallegos, 944 FW commander. “I am confident these pilots will take back what they have learned here and effectively stand up their own program making an impact.”
The two pilots will take part in establishing Japan’s first F-35A squadron enhancing their national defense abilities.
“It is a precious opportunity for me to be part of the first graduating class and I feel very lucky to be involved in the F-35A stand-up program in Japan,” said one of the newly graduated JASDF F-35 pilots. “I received a lot of information during the training and learned a lot of things from the U.S. Air Force instructor pilots about how to fly the jet and tactics.”
The approximately seven month long course consisted of in-depth classroom academic instruction, simulator training and F-35 orientation before they experienced their first flight. Their training culminated with air-to-air and air-to-ground employment experience.
The graduation was marked by a small ceremony hosted by the 944th Operations Group, Detachment 2.