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A Japanese Air Self Defense Force F-35 pilot took to the skies for the first time in the new aircraft.

According to a press release, Lt. Col. Nakano completed a solo sortie and hit a historical milestone for the JASDF.

Nakano said:

“This is an historical event for JASDF and my career as a pilot. My first flight was perfect. The weather was fine, and the jet was great. I’ll never forget this day.

My goal is to stand up the first F-35 squadron in Japan as soon as possible. In order to enhance the aircrafts capabilities, I have to be a more efficient F-35 pilot.”

Lt. Col. Sean Holahan, 944th Operations Group Detachment 2 commander said:

“To watch a Japanese fighter pilot fly Japan’s F-35, launched by a Japanese crew chief, saluted by Japanese maintainers, while supported by an elite team of American men and women on American soil, was surreal.”

Holahan flew alongside Nakano and guided him through the sortie:

“It’s hard to describe the deep pride we all felt while sharing this moment with our friends and allies. It’s been nine years since the 944th has had jets on our ramp so this was a sight for sore eyes.”

 

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