EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- The 372nd Training Squadron’s Detachment 25 stood up the first F-35 field training detachment (FTD) in the Pacific Air Forces command and completed its first F-35 Egress and Low Observable courses on Feb. 5, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
With the first of Eielson’s F-35s scheduled to arrive in April, the entire fighter wing has been working to prepare, and a key component of preparation is ensuring maintainers are ready to receive the aircraft.
“We moved into the building back in September 2019 and began classes in January,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin McNatt, a 372nd TRS F-35 crew chief instructor. “The courses we have going on now are Introduction to ALIS (Autonomic Logistics Information System), which is the computer system we use for the F-35, egress and low observable, all of which are part of the Airmen’s upgrade training.”
The field training detachment’s curriculum will cover material spanning 11 Air Force Specialty Codes for both F-35 and F-16 aircraft maintainers assigned to the 354th Maintenance Group. Overseeing all courses are Det. 25’s superintendent and 17 instructors, including U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brett Dallinger.
Upon completion of technical training, Airmen are equipped with the foundational skills and knowledge. When they get here the instructors help them build on those skills through the courses which are designed to interweave the academic classroom setting with hands-on experience, Dallinger said.
“Most of our instructors have experience from other bases that, like Eielson, stood up an F-35 squadron from nothing. They’re bringing that expertise and setting the standard for F-35 training here in PACAF,” Dallinger said.
Having a new, state-of-the-art FTD makes Eielson’s Airmen the envy of the F-35 community, including instructors like McNatt.
“Having this amazing facility here on the base solely dedicated to training is awesome,” he said. “The Airmen have the best tools and equipment available to them here. They can learn the skills and turn right around and apply it to their own fleet.”
The FTD at Eielson is one of just five F-35 FTDs across the Air Force. Other detachments are located at Hill AFB in Utah, Eglin AFB in Florida, Luke AFB in Arizona and Nellis AFB in Nevada, all of which currently have the F-35.
Being the first in PACAF to have an F-35 FTD and host these courses are just a few of many milestones the wing is approaching. Each additional milestone reached signifies a step toward the future as a combat-coded fighter wing.