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461st Flight Test Squadron receives brand new F-35A

  • Published
  • By Giancarlo Casem
  • 412th Test Wing Public Affairs

The newest F-35A, straight out of the factory, found its new home here at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Aug. 1.

The aircraft, Air Force serial number 338, is the first of six F-35s the 461st Flight Test Squadron and F-35 Lightning II Integrated Test Force will receive in the next few years. The upgraded fleet will be used to test the Technical Refresh 3 and Block 4 configurations of the Air Force’s newest fighter that will create tactical and operational advantages over peer competitors.

“The 461st needs airplanes; our complex test missions require a 4-ship of instrumented test jets to fully evaluate F-35 warfighting systems,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Bearce, an Air Force Reservist with the 370th Flight Test Squadron currently flying for the 461st “Deadly Jesters.”

The 461 FLTS is the Department of Defense’s lead developmental flight test unit for sensors, weapons, and software on all three variants of the F-35. The team has been behind every previous test project that has fielded new capabilities to operational F-35 units around the world.

“The F-35 is modernizing from a Tech Refresh 2 configuration to a Tech Refresh 3 configuration.  But we are still developing capabilities for both configurations for the next few years.  Developmental testers need to evaluate those capabilities using 4-ship formations in each configuration, which drives an increase to our total fleet size,” Bearce explained.

The software and hardware upgrades are aimed at increases the Lightning II’s capabilities and survivability in contested combat environments.

“Your iPhone gets upgraded all the time, this is kind of the same thing for the F-35,” Bearce said. “The F-35 is getting more computing power so it can host new capabilities as well as future weapons as we need them.”

These future upgrades will benefit the 826 fielded F-35 aircraft in the US Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy as well as the eight partner nations in the F-35 program and the 15 total nations participating in the F-35 program. Brand-new Tech Refresh 3 aircraft will be rolling off the assembly line starting in the summer of 2023. The Deadly Jesters’ will use their bigger test fleet to ensure those jets are combat-ready from the outset.

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.