Hill AFB currently has 27 F-35A stealth fighters and will eventually be home to 78 aircraft and three operational squadrons by the end of 2019
A historic event took place at Hill Air Force Base (AFB) on Sep. 27, 2017.
On that day in fact hundreds cheered the historic arrival of the 4th Fighter Squadron’s and 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit’s first F-35A as tail number 5133 landed on base and taxied into Hotel Row.
“It’s an absolute honor to brining this aircraft home,” Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, 4th Fighter Squadron (FS) commander, said. “We have hundreds of maintainers, pilots and support personnel who have been working diligently to transit on the 4th AMU and the 4th FS to F-35 operations. I’m incredibly excited to be a part of giving that transition its first tangible asset as we all build the next operation F-35 unit together.”
As explained by Donovan K. Potter, 388th Fighter Wing, in the article Hill’s 4th FS/AMU receives first F-35A, currently the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) has maintenance control over six aircraft from the 388th Fighter Wing partner 34th, and Capt. Cheyenne Clement, 4th AMU officer in charge said he appreciates the F-35 training his people received from the 34th AMU, but nothing beats working on their own aircraft.
“In the last year and a half, we have prepared for this very moment,” Clement said. “This aircraft arrival symbolizes all our hard work finally coming together. It marks the beginning of the Fighting Fuujins coming back to the fight; delivering combat airpower around the world at a moment’s notice.”
Staff Sgt. Timothy Ericksen, 4th AMU dedicated crew chief who has been working F-35s for the past two years and whose name will be on the side of the plane, said it’s a privilege to catch the 4th AMU’s first jet and looks forward to making sure all the maintenance is completed as he employs the skills he learned from the 34th AMU.
“This jet marks the end of an era and the start of the future for the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings,” Morris said. “Both wings are now one hundred percent F-35 units, with the last F-16s leaving the base last week. We established a long, proud history of F-16 operations, supporting our country around the world for four decades. The arrival of the first 4th Fighter Squadron F-35 is the beginning of the next 40-year chapter for the Fuujins.”
The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in October 2015. Hill AFB currently has 27 F-35As and will eventually be home to 78 aircraft and three operational squadrons by the end of 2019. The 388th and 419th FWs fly and maintain the aircraft in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of the active duty and Reserve.
The F-35 Lightning II is the result of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, which has been originally designed to replace aging fighter inventories including USAF F-16s and A-10s, U.S. Navy F/A-18s, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers and F/A-18s, and U.K. Tornados, Harrier GR.7s and Sea Harriers. Three JSF variants have been developed to fulfill this difficult task: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
The F-35 has been conceived to fly, operate and survive in advanced threat environments: in fact thanks to its aerodynamic performance and advanced integrated avionics, the F-35 provide next-generation stealth, enhanced situational awareness, and reduced vulnerability for the U.S. and allied nations.
Photo credit: Todd Cromar / U.S. Air Force