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F-35A fleet doubles at Eielson

F-35A fleet doubles at Eielson

A Defense Contract Management Agency pilot taxis a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II after landing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 25, 2020. This was the fourth of 54 F-35As scheduled to arrive to Eielson by the end of 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter)

F-35A fleet doubles at Eielson

Three U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron taxi to their new home, the 356th Fighter Squadron, at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 25, 2020. Their on-time arrival doubles the F-35A fleet at Eielson from three fighters to six. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter)

F-35A fleet doubles at Eielson

A Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) pilot prepares to exit a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron after landing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska June 25, 2020. DCMA pilots delivered the F-35As on schedule to the 356th Fighter Squadron and are primed to deliver Eielson’s remaining 48 jets by the end of 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter)

F-35A fleet doubles at Eielson

A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron lands at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 25, 2020. Eielson received three F-35As, doubling the current fleet from three to six. Eielson is set to receive a total of 54 aircraft by the end of 2021. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter)

F-35A fleet doubles at Eielson

A Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) pilot lands a U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 25, 2020. Pilots assigned to DCMA deliver aircraft to bases around the world. For the 356th Fighter Squadron, DCMA aircraft deliveries enable F-35 pilots to focus on stand up and training preparation without risk of COVID-19 exposure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

The F-35A Lightning II fleet has officially doubled at Eielson with the arrival of three new F-35As June 25, 2020.

The first two F-35As arrived in April and the third in May.  

“I saw the first two jets land in April and it felt like a once in a lifetime experience that I was honored and excited to be part of,” said Airman 1st Class Jeremiah Jordheim, a 356th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant dedicated crew chief. “Seeing the 356th Fighter Squadron stand up is a great opportunity and it’s always a thrill to see that Alaska tail come in.” 

The most recent jets were flown to Eielson by pilots assigned to the Defense Contract Management Agency. DCMA is a Department of Defense organization primarily in charge of delivering new F-35 aircraft to customers across the globe.

“Using DCMA pilots to deliver these three jets freed up three of our personnel to work on F-35 squadron stand up and training preparation here at Eielson without having to worry about travelling to the lower 48 and the risks for COVID exposure,” said Lt. Col. James Christensen, the 356th Fighter Squadron commander. 

A mix of local-assigned Eielson pilots and DCMA pilots will continue to deliver the remaining 48 F-35As scheduled to arrive by December 2021, enabling Eielson’s F-35A pilots to continue to train uninterrupted throughout the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex alongside 18th Aggressor Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcons and F-22 Raptors assigned to the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

“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,” Christensen noted. “Alaska is poised to become a premier training range for the Pacific Air Forces, sister DoD services and international partners across the theater.”

Eielson’s reception of its F-35A fleet is currently on schedule and once complete, will make Alaska the U.S. state with the highest concentration of combat-coded, fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

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