First Alaskan F-35A takes flight

The first Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II destined to operate from Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska, has flown for the first time.

The aircraft – serial 18-5345 – took flight at Naval Air Station (NAS) Fort Worth, Texas, on March 10. It is due to serve with the 356th Fighter Squadron (FS), which was reactivated in October last year.

First Alaskan F-35A [Henry B Ham] #1
F-35A - serial 18-5345 - in flight. Henry B Ham

In a press release from last October, Lt Col James Christensen, officer commanding 356th FS, said: “The 356th FS is reactivating to bring F-35As out to the Pacific [theatre]… We are strategically placed here in Alaska to prepare and project fifth-generation stealth fighter capabilities, working with our [programme] partners and allies in the Pacific and to be ready, if called, to deploy around the world.”

The 356th FS is the first of two new Lightning II squadrons to take residence at the Alaskan base, with a total of 54 F-35As set to be based there. The first aircraft is expected to arrive at Eielson AFB next month.