F-35 Avionics pipeline change saves $2.2M, cuts training days in half

  • Published
  • By George Woodward, Sheppard AFB Public Affairs

Student feedback was a big factor in the change, according to Daniel Mendoza, training manager with the 365th Training Squadron at Sheppard.

“Until now, F-35 avionics students came from basic training to Sheppard, where they would complete the Avionics Fundamentals course and the Integrated General Avionics Principles course before transitioning to the 359th Training Squadron at Eglin AFB for airframe-specific training,” he said. “We were getting feedback from students that a lot of that was not value-added.”

The training cadre at Sheppard analyzed the data and found it supported the student feedback. They presented it to the avionics career field manager, Chief Master Sgt. Brian McRory, who requested a site visit to the 33rd Fighter Wing’s Academic Training Center at Eglin AFB in March 2022.

That led to a full re-assessment of the pipeline that involved multiple players. Tech. Sgt. Zachary Madera from the 365th TRS combed through all three F-35 avionics training courses to assess objectives that could potentially be consolidated or eliminated. Meanwhile, Mendoza worked with Andrew Tischler at Air Education and Training Command and Violet Brantley and Ms. Sabrina Booker at 2nd Air Force to ensure course material could be transferred and uploaded to the Lockheed-Martin learning management system at the F-35 Academic Training Center.

“It really was a team effort, and everyone was focused on letting the data drive our decisions and keeping the best interest of our Airmen in the forefront,” he said.

The result was a new pipeline that involves one course at one location – the 359th TRS at Eglin AFB – versus three courses at two locations. It also yielded a reduction in course length from 106 training days to 50 and five fewer instructor requirements.

“Most importantly,” Mendoza said, “it gets Airmen out to our operational units faster and better prepared for the specific role they will play in delivering combat power.”

Though F-35 avionics is just one of more than 70 Air Force specialties trained by the 82nd Training Wing, Mendoza said the change highlights how the wing is embracing the mandate from Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, Jr. to “Accelerate Change or Lose.”

“General Brown is challenging us to challenge the norm,” he said. “We listened to our Airmen, assembled a diverse and multi-capable team to address a problem they identified, and developed a solution. Leaders at the squadron, group, wing and headquarters levels all supported the effort and the result is better and more efficient training for our Airmen.”

The last class under the old model arrived at Sheppard Dec. 1; the new pipeline model takes effect in April.