Sep 17, 2015
USAF F-35A could deploy quickly after IOC next year
The service is still on pace to field a squadron of F-35s by the IOC goal of Aug. 1, 2016. It would likely include between 12 and 14 aircraft, 30 pilots and 240 maintainers and support personnel.
The first squadron will start off with three missions: close air support, interdiction of enemy aircraft, and suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses.
The USAF currently has 74 F-35As, and pilots have a combined 19,500 flight hours. Across the entire program for all services, more than 2,000 service members are trained as maintainers.
Another issue is finding international bases for the F-35 that can be used for resupply and depot maintenance, part of the "Global Sustainment System" the Air Force is attempting to set up.
Currently the service is evaluating 17 candidate locations in multiple allied nations.