Eielson AFB doubles F-35A fleet

The number of Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) has doubled, following the arrival of three more examples at the Alaskan base on June 25.

The 356th Fighter Squadron (FS) – a part of the 354th Fighter Wing (FW) – accepted its first two F-35As in April, followed soon after by the third in May. This recent delivery brings the total number of Lightnings at Eielson AFB to six.

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A USAF F-35A - under the control of a pilot assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) - taxis by after landing at Eielson AFB, Alaska, on June 25. USAF/SA Kahdija Slaughter

Pilots assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) flew the latest batch of F-35As to Eielson AFB. The DCMA is a US Department of Defense (DoD) agency which is primarily in charge of delivering the fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter to customers around the world.

A mix of locally based USAF and DCMA pilots will continue to deliver the remaining 48 aircraft that are scheduled to arrive at the base by December 2021. This enables 356th FS pilots to continue training uninterrupted throughout the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC), alongside F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-22 Raptor fighters based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

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One of the newly assigned F-35As for the 356th FS lands at Eielson AFB on June 25. USAF/SA Kahdija Slaughter

Lt Col James Christensen, commander of the 356th FS, said: “The JPARC provides unique opportunities for advanced training and tactics, integrating fifth-generation fighters and surface-to-air missile threats combined with the air force’s best adversary replication… Alaska is poised to become a premier training range for the Pacific Air Forces, sister DoD services and international partners across the [theatre].”

According to the USAF, delivery of F-35As to Eielson AFB remains on schedule and once it is concluded, it “will make Alaska the US state with the highest concentration of combat-coded, fifth-generation fighter aircraft.”