17:24 GMT +319 February 2018
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    Three F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, (rear to front) AF-2, AF-3 and AF-4, flies over Edwards Air Force Base in this December 10, 2011 handout photo provided by Lockheed Martin

    F-35 Pilots From US Air Force, Marine Units to Conduct First Integrated Drill

    © REUTERS/ Darin Russell/Courtesy of Lockheed Martin
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    Pilots from different US military services flying different models of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet will have an opportunity to train together at an upcoming exercise at the Red Flag training facility in the US state of Alaska, the Department of Defense announced in a press release.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — "The exercise will mark the first time Air Force F-35s will integrate with the Marine Corps’ F-35Bs during a combat exercise," the release stated on Thursday. "This interaction ensures the services are flying with standardized F-35 tactics across the fleet and share best-practices."

    In addition, aircrews flying older fighter jets will have the opportunity to refine their operations alongside the F-35, preparing pilots to operate in a joint environment, the release explained.

    "The Air Force, Navy and Marines are all flying the same aircraft," Red Flag Air Expeditionary Wing Vice Commander Col. Ryan Suttlemyre said in the release. "Because of our interaction at Red Flag, when we start presenting forces and deploying F-35s, planners will understand how to employ these aircraft, regardless of which command they are a part of."

    On Thursday, Seven F-35A Lightning II — the Air Force model — departed from an Air Force base in the US state of Florida to participate in the exercise, according to the release.

    Different versions of the F-35 are being built to specifications required by Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps pilots, usually designated with the letters "A," "B," and "C" denoting conventional takeoff and landing, short takeoff/vertical landing and the aircraft carrier variant.

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    Tags:
    military drills, F-35 Lightning II, US Marine Corps, US Air Force, United States
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