Meridian Naval Air Station, Miss. The latest and greatest in fighter jet technology is the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), also known as the F-35 Lightning, according to experts. NAS Meridian has a simulator on board to demonstrate to the young pilots the capabilities of the plane that a few pilots will one day fly.
The aircraft is state-of-the-art. A touch screen panel now replaces what used to be dozens of switches, buttons, and knobs. The plane also possesses stealth technology, making it nearly undetectable.
"This is called fifth generation airplane," said Rick Royer, F-35 instructor. "And what it brings to the war fighter is stealth capabilities, where you can get into a high threat area undetected, accurately put bombs on target, and get out without getting killed."
The F-35 is so advanced, it won’t just be replacing one plane but several.
"One of the first ones is the Harrier for the Marines because the Harrier is a very old airplane. And the Marines have used and need to replace that with the F-35," said Royer. "The other is the F-16 for the Air Force, that will again be replaced by the F-35. All of our partner countries will also be replacing their airplanes as well."
Other aircraft that will be replaced by the F-35 include the A-10 Warthog and the F-15 Eagle. Aircraft like the Harrier have the ability to take off and land vertically on short runways. This is a hard thing to do, but the F-35 can do exactly that. A few pilots had already tried the simulator, including an instructor.
"Pretty awesome," said Royer. "Put in one of the instructors who was an F-18 pilot, and he was amazed with what the airplanes capabilities are."