KEMPER COUNTY, Miss. (WTOK) - Pilots flying the Navy’s newest aircraft, the F-35C, are spending the next few weeks training at NAS Meridian’s outlying field Joe Williams in Kemper County.
“It is a new type of aircraft that the department of defense is acquiring and there is three different variants and the Navy flies the F-35C model,” explained Captain Scott Bunnay, Commanding Officer at NAS Meridian.
The long range stealth fighter is a single engine aircraft. It is piloted by one person, designed with larger wing surfaces and reinforced landing gear and is designed to provide upgraded technology for the Navy’s aircraft carrier operations.
“It is going to provide some upgrades in technology that is going to make the aircraft be able to interoperate with fleet assets and ships in the fleet, and also with international and ally partners,” said Capt. Bunnay.
NAS Meridian is supporting VFA-101 out of Eglin Air Force Base, as they conduct fleet carrier landing practices with the F-35C, which is a bit louder than the normal T-45 flown at NAS Meridian.
“There is a developmental test cycle, operational test cycle and then there is training aviators in the fleet how to fly it,” stated Capt. Bunnay.
NAS Meridian is not only providing support in training and landing practices, but also helping teach future pilots of the new aircraft. NAS Meridian pilots are already flying the F-35B variant for the Marine Corps.
“It is a testimony to the training that Air Wing One provides to our flight students that they can go out and fly a wide variety of aircraft all focused around strike or carrier operations,” said Capt. Bunnay.
Leaders with NAS Meridian say they are grateful to support the mission of helping the operations of the new F-35C aircraft.
“It is something to showcase that we are doing to support the navy and our nation,” explained Bunnay.