The first two operational F-35As arrived at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, yesterday, according to an Air Force press release.
The active duty 388th Fighter Wing at Hill, along with the Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, will be the first combat-coded units to operate the Air Force’s first two operational F-35A Lightning IIs.
The aircraft will be divided equally into three squadrons: the 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams,” 421st Fighter Squadron “Black Widows,” and 4th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Fuujins.”
“Make no mistake, we’re built for this. We will deliver the combat capability that our nation so desperately needs to meet tomorrow’s threats,” 388th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brad Lyons said in the release.
More than $120 million has been spent to prepare the base to operate the new aircraft. While the wing currently has pilots and maintainers trained to operate the F-35, more are in the pipeline. Likewise, the first two F-35s that arrived yesterday herald the expected arrival of one or two more per month until the wing reaches its full complement of 72 aircraft. The aircraft will be divided equally into three squadrons: the 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams,” 421st Fighter Squadron “Black Widows,” and 4th Fighter Squadron “Fighting Fuujins.”
“The reason we’re here today is because of our airmen, civilians, contractors and outstanding community who stood behind us 100 percent,” said Col. Ron Jolly, 75th Air Base Wing commander. “We know the capabilities of this aircraft. We are on the cutting edge and we’re very proud to be a part of that cutting edge.”