Eglin Air Force Base has just taken delivery of a piece of hardware that would surely be the ultimate toy for flight sim gaming fans. The F-35 Lightning II Full Mission Simulator (FMS) system includes a high-fidelity 360-degree visual display system and a reconfigurable cockpit that can simulate all three variants of the F-35 Lightning II for U.S. and international partner services – the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the F-35C carrier variant.

The system is the first designed specifically to train pilots for Lockheed Martin's fifth generation, multi-role F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). To ensure pilots receive the most realistic experience and allow for software upgrades in step with the F-35 development, the simulator uses the same software used in the actual aircraft and accurately replicates all F-35 sensors and weapons deployment.

"The smooth surface, high-resolution dome is a dramatic improvement over legacy fighter simulators. The high visual acuity and utilization of a significant amount of real aircraft parts and source code will allow us to train a wide variety of mission tasks previously not accomplished in simulators. The F-35 FMS will be our primary pilot training device, and we are anxious to start putting it to good use," says Col. Arthur Tomassetti, 33rd Fighter Wing Vice Commander.

Preparation and assembly of the Lockheed Martin-built system is now underway at Eglin Air Force Base's F-35 Integrated Training Center (ITC), with training due to commence later this year.