EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The first Marine Corps officer graduated from the Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II Intelligence Formal Training Unit course June 24.
The formal course combines fifth-generation, fighter-specific and general intelligence academics applicable to the F-35 and the low-observable global strike mission. Completion of the course curriculum fulfills all initial qualification training requirements, and students are assigned basic qualification status.
Marine Corps 1st Lt. Samuel Winsted, an F-35B Lightning II intelligence officer, began his training May 18 at Eglin Air Force Base, learning the unique aspects of F-35 employment and intelligence support to the F-35 mission.
“It’s our job to help students understand what the F-35 can do and what it brings to the fight,” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Miskin, a 33rd Operations Group F-35 IFTU instructor. “We have to change and modify our lessons so we can incorporate those changes program-wide as the F-35 program approaches initial operational capability.”
The Marine Corps will declare IOC with the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing variant this summer.
“Having Lieutenant Winsted here is significant because the Marine Corps doesn’t have a course equivalent to our F-35 IFTU course,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Turner, the 33rd Operations Support Squadron commander. “It will absolutely increase their capability.”
Winsted will serve in a critical role assisting the Marine Corps’ F-35 program at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, as it becomes the first operational F-35B base.
“Now that I have my basic qualification status, I can provide the right information, scenario development and mission integration to the F-35B to the Marine aircrews at MCAS Yuma,” Winsted said.
The F-35 IFTU at Eglin AFB provides reach-back support regarding intelligence support to other services’ F-35 squadrons.
“Hopefully, we will be able to teach more Navy and Marine intelligence analysts,” Miskin said. “That way, as a whole, we can all be on the same page as to what intelligence to provide and how they will support F-35 aircrew to complete the mission.”