F-35 Lightning II demonstrator showcases fifth-generation capabilities

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton, 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Osan Air Base

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- A demonstrator for the fifth generation of advanced combat and air superiority arrived here Oct 8 for a two-day visit.

Members from across base were able to come out and experience what flying an F-35 Lightning II would be like.

"We're pleased to be able to host the demonstrator of the F-35 Lightning II capabilities," said Col. Andrew Hansen, 51st Fighter Wing commander. "The F-35 program is a key part of our combined military operations and we are excited to support the demonstration of this cutting edge military technology."  

The demonstrator showed participants how critical air superiority is to any successful modern -day military operation.

"This experience was pretty eye-opening for me," said Capt. Sky Villers, 36th Fighter Squadron chief officer and an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. "Just to be able to see and interact with the avionics was pretty impressive. When you're piloting it, you are able to concentrate on the bigger picture with more complete information, allowing easier ability to focus, decide and act."

As the Air Force's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-35 combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility.

"To help explain the capabilities and details of the F-35 program, we brought the demonstrator here to give the United States and Republic of Korea Air Force members an opportunity to sit in this fifth-generation aircraft and take it for a spin," said Dick Cathers, Lockheed Martin F-35 Korea director.

Cathers continued by explaining how this experience shows members how the F-35 program has grown and matured over the past few years, while at the same time dispelling negative rumors and attention with facts of the program.

"The program is here. It has arrived," Cathers said. "F-35s are being flown throughout the operational forces.

In addition to the Air Force's F-35A, the Marine Corps and Navy have their own versions of the F-35. The F-35B gives the Marine Corps a short take-off and vertical landing capability, while the Navy's F-35C gives them a carrier-based capability.

"This simulator is an opportunity to experience the thrill of flying a stealth fighter," said Bob DuLaney, Lockheed Martin F-35 customer engagement manager. "This fighter can perform multiple mission sets designed for both air-to-ground attack and air-to-air combat."

Airmen from across base came out to get a chance to sit in the cockpit of the most advanced fighter aircraft to date. This gave the Airmen hands-on experience with the technology they will be working with in the near future.

"When you are inside it you realize there is a lot of information being relayed and how extremely capable of a platform and a key part of our future this aircraft is," said Capt. Ridge Flick, 25th FS alpha flight commander and an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot. "After being in it for a while, I think the biggest thing it brings is a new level of situational awareness. The F-35 really gives us an edge to maximize our firepower and rule the battlespace."

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