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F-35s to start night operations
Eglin Air Force Base houses the largest collection of the Air Force's F-35, and is responsible for training nearly all of the pilots who fly that aircraft.
But until now, those planes flew exclusively in the day time.
Now residents of Okaloosa County can expect to see them in the moonlight as well.
Channel Three's Rob Brown spoke with Eglin officials and found out what this news means to those who live near the base.
Eglin Air Force Base is the primary training facility for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. And now, for the first time, those jets will take to the night skies of Okaloosa County.
According to the air force, upgrades to the F-35's software and hardware now allow night training programs.
The jets will fly in the same air space and flight patterns as current day-time training flights.
Most of the flights will take off and land at Duke Field, or the Choctaw outlaying naval field.
The flights will be used to train pilots in flight patterns for takeoffs and landings in the dark.
They'll also train on air to air and air to ground weapons targeting systems, both with and without night vision assistance.
The Air Force says day and night processes for those systems are different, and that lessons learned at Eglin will help develop the training manual for the F-35 moving forward.
Night missions will last around a week, and will take place sporadically, when pilots reach that portion of their training.
What pilots learn about the jets here is mandatory for being able to fly the jets in combat.
Eglin says most night-time take offs and landings will take place at remote air fields, and that noise impact should be kept to a minimum. On Eglin Air Force Base, Rob Brown, Channel Three News.