Air Force: F-35 ready for initial combat in 2016

The Air Force is nearly ready to declare its F-35 fighter jets ready for initial combat use as early as August 2016, according to a top F-35 official. Major General Jeffrey Harrigian, a two-star general and pilot with more than 4,100 hours flying in fighter jets including the F-22, told Reuters this week that the Air Force variant of the F-35 was making progress towards combat readiness.

From Reuters:

Major General Jeffrey Harrigian, the two-star general named in January to oversee all things F-35 for the Air Force, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday the program was making good progress, but he was keeping close tabs on key items required to meet the target date.

Those issues include software development, modification of existing jets to incorporate design changes, further work on a complex automated logistics system called ALIS and ensuring a sufficient number of technicians are trained to service the jet.

“There’s a lot of work to be done … but from where we sit, we’re on the right glide path to IOC (initial operational capability),” Harrigian said.

He said the Air Force planned for the new jet to reach full operational capability around 2021 or 2022, with larger numbers of planes and weaponry ready for full combat use.”

View full coverage of Major General Harrigian’s interview with Reuters, and visit F35.com for more information on the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Program.