The Air Force’s F-35 fleet in Alaska just doubled in size

A Defence Contract Management Agency pilot taxis a US Air Force F-35A Lightning II after landing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 25, 2020. US Air Force/Senior Airman Kahdija Slaughter
  • The fleet of F-35A stealth fighters at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, doubling with the arrival of three jets on June 25.
  • Another 48 F-35As are scheduled to arrive by December 2021, make Alaska the state with the highest concentration of combat-coded, fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
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The F-35A Lightning II fleet has officially doubled at Eielson with the arrival of three new F-35As on 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 honoured 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 Defence Contract Management Agency. DCMA is a Department of Defence organisation 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 theatre.”

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