Military Aviation

Alaska’s Eielson AFB receives first two F-35 stealth fighters out of 54 scheduled to arrive by 2021

With the arrival, Eielson is now Pacific Air Forces’ first base to house the fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

Taken on Apr. 21, 2020 the photos in this post show the arrival of the first two F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB).

With the arrival, Eielson is now Pacific Air Forces’ first base to house the fifth-generation fighter aircraft, Airman 1st Class Aaron Guerrisky, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, explains in the article Eielson welcomes F-35A Lightning II.

“This first aircraft is a milestone,” said Col. Benjamin Bishop, the 354th Fighter Wing commander. “Making the first aircraft arrival possible has been a long path, but it’s also just the first step in a journey that will continue at Eielson Air Force Base for decades to come.”

With a total of 54 F-35As scheduled to arrive by December 2021, Alaska will be the most concentrated state for combat-coded, fifth-generation fighter aircraft. The state will also continue to be a premiere training location as home to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex’s 75,000 square miles of airspace.

“When you station the F-35 at Eielson and you have the F-22 Raptor down at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, working together in the JPARC with our 18th Aggressor Squadron and ground training assets, you have the perfect training field for the F-35 to develop,” said Bishop.

Maj. Kathryn Damron, the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander, knows what this aircraft arrival signifies not only for her squadron, but for the base as a whole.

“We get to establish what the standard looks like for PACAF’s F-35s,” said Damron. “It’s a huge responsibility, and we don’t take it lightly.”

After months of preparation and support from units around Eielson, the recently reactivated 356th Fighter Squadron is now ready to begin the journey to full operational capability.

“We recognize that when you do something big, like bring in a new mission and stand up a combat capability in a wing, that everybody on the base has a part to play in it,” said Lt. Col. James Christensen, the 356th Fighter Squadron commander.

Everybody is not limited to Eielson personnel, but also includes the surrounding communities and their support as well.

“We as Airmen and families are part of the greater Fairbanks North Star Borough community and part of the Alaska community,” said Bishop. “To see the community come together to support this new mission is truly inspiring.”

The arrival of the F-35 at Eielson turns a page in the history of airpower and in the history of the 354th Fighter Wing.

“We have a new mission,” said Bishop. “It’s here and we’re going to grow that mission as we continue to invest in our people, families and community. We won’t look back as we pioneer the airpower frontier.”

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Zade Vadnais, Tech. Sgt. Jerilyn Quintanilla and Tech. Sgt. Adam Keele / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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