What’s it take to become operational? First, you need enough flyable planes, which has taken longer than originally planned. And then you need three more things: Practice, practice, practice:
The F-35A is still a year away from its initial operating capability date but F-35A pilots flew SEAD missions in the recent Air Force Weapons School Integration Phase out of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., for the first time.
Air Force officials didn’t offer many details on the F-35A’s performance and pointed out that many of the sensors and software is not yet ready for many of the SEAD missions.
However, Air Force leaders highlighted the ability to add the F-35A to mission packages has opened up F-22 pilots to focus more on air-to-air responsibilities.
SEAD is tough. It means going after the people who shoot down fighters for a living… with a fighter.