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31st TES begins F-35 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation

  • Published
  • By Maj. Ashley Conner
  • 53rd Wing Public Affairs
The 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron kicked off the Defense Department’s F-35 Lightning II Initial Operational Test and Evaluation with a large force employment sortie from Edwards AFB, California, Dec. 5.

“The sorties consisted of seven F-35s performing both offensive counter air, suppression of enemy air defenses and air attack operations. This marks an important milestone for the F-35 program,” said Lt. Col. Nicholas Ihde, 31st TES commander.

During the IOT&E phase, the 31st TES F-35 pilots will fly more than 30 missions designed to fully evaluate the complete air system as well as identify technical and operational areas for improvement.

“These unique flights place the aircraft in realistic combat conditions with our joint and coalition partners to determine the operational effectiveness and suitability for the warfighter,” Ihde said.

The 31st TES has 10 F-35 pilots, 145 maintainer’s and 11 engineers to bring the F-35 program through this phase. If they discover an issue they will work with the director of operational test and evaluation, Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office to address it before going out to the fleet.

“As the conduit between developmental test flights and combat missions it is our duty to ensure this aircraft fulfills the need of the warfighter, (major command), and the American public," Ihde said. "We must guarantee that we hand the Combat Air Force a product that has been tested with rigor and is ironed out. An advantage the 31st TES possesses is pilot experience. Most of the pilots have over 1,500 flight hours in various fighter aircraft and previous operational test backgrounds lending vast experiences fall back on and reference in order to make this jet the best it can be.”

The completion of F-35 IOT&E will aid the Navy in an initial operating capability decision and will help inform full rate production for the DoD in the future.

Edwards provides care, opportunities for children aged six weeks through high school graduation

Edwards provides care, opportunities for childrenaged six weeks through high school graduation

The Child and Youth Program at Edwards AFB provides care and opportunities for kids ages six weeks old through high school graduation. A brief summary of those services follows:

  •                    The Child Development Center cares for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years, with a DOD-wide curriculum. The curriculum is focused on learning through play activities supporting social, emotional, physical and intellectual development. Installations across DOD follow the curriculum on the same timeline to allow seamless permanent change-of-station transitions for youth enrolled in care.
  •                    The School Age Center provides before and after-school care and summer camp for children ages 5 to 12. During school breaks, full-day camps are offered. SAC promotes cognitive, social, emotional, cultural, language and physical development through programs that encourage self-confidence, curiosity, self-discipline and resiliency.
  •                    The open recreation program at the Main Youth Center provides a safe space for ages 9 to 12 to attend after school. Programs include Power Hour, STEM, Torch Club, social recreation, youth camps, special events and more.
  •                    The youth sports program provides intro and league opportunities for ages 3 to 12, and promotes inclusiveness, self-discipline, commitment, resiliency and social skills. There are four sports offered annually for ages five to 12: baseball/softball, soccer, flag football and basketball. Smart start programs are available to ages 3 to 5. There are many other sports and camps offered throughout the year.
  •                    The Teen Center is available for ages 13 to 18 during the school year. Programs offered include Military Youth of the Year, Keystone Club, social recreation, STEM activities, college trips, leadership camps and more.
  •                    Youth programs (SAC, open rec and teen) are affiliated with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and 4-H.
  •                    Family Child Care homes – there are currently three FCC homes on the installation. They can provide care for ages two weeks to 12 years. FCC providers are trained by Child and Youth Program training and curriculum specialists and have the flexibility to determine their hours of operation and the ages of youth within their care. The program’s new dedicated manager, Jennifer Stegmann, may be reached at 661-275-7529.

Although CDC enrollment capacity is 317, not all slots are currently filled because of a shortage of childcare workers. School Age Center enrollment capacity is 156. After-school care enrollment is 130. Before-school care enrollment is 75. Summer Camp 2022 was at its capacity and enrollment for Summer Camp 2023 opens April 3.