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Norwegian Air Force pilot tests F-35A fighter jet in Alaska

October 19, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A test pilot from Norway has begun working with the F-35A fighter jet at Eielson Air Force Base.

Norwegian Air Force pilot Eskil Amdal on Tuesday tested the jet’s ability to taxi, turn and stop on a frozen, slippery runway, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .

Norway is one of many U.S. allies purchasing the F-35A.

“You can’t really compare it to anything else,” Amdal said. “It’s easy to fly and the integrated systems are truly amazing.”

Six cameras are attached to the outside of the jet. Those cameras feed directly into the pilot’s helmet, allowing them to see more than just what’s ahead.

“All the stuff on the inside of the helmet — I look down between my legs and I see the ground, rivers, concrete, forest below in the helmet visor — It’s hard to describe,” Amdal said. “It’s phenomenal.”

The jet has hit a couple roadblocks, but that’s a part of testing, Lt. Col. Tucker Hamilton said.

Pilots encountered problems with their helmet chin straps freezing when the jet went through arctic atmosphere testing at minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 45 degrees Celsius), Hamilton said, but that problem has been fixed.

“The F-35 is extremely capable,” Hamilton said. “It collects more data about the battlefield than anything before it. ... We need this to work, and it is working.”

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of the Alaska North American Aerospace Defense Command, called the F-35A “a daunting threat.”

The jet will be tested at Eielson until Nov. 20.


Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com