EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Fifty-four F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft are slated to arrive at Eielson beginning in Spring of 2020, with the final F-35 being delivered in 2022.
The addition of two F-35 fighter squadrons to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska will help deter possible adversaries in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.
Pointing to the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, and KC-135 Stratotanker, Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, the 11th Air Force and Alaskan Command commander, stated that with these assets in Alaska, the Air Force has the means and capability to reach anywhere in the northern hemisphere within nine hours.
“If anybody is thinking about having a conflict with us they have to put that in their calculations,” he said.
Placing the F-35As at Eielson strengthens national security, but it also benefits the local community. The basing of the F-35A at Eielson is expected to bring approximately 3,500 people to the Fairbanks Northstar Borough.
“The Air Force and our community partners have worked closely up to this point and will continue to work together to ensure that both the base and the community are prepared to receive the F-35 aircraft and associated personnel.” said Col. Todd Robbins, the 354th Fighter Wing Vice Commander.
Along with increased personnel, the community can expect to see an increase in the number of jobs available on and around Eielson.
“The community and the Air Force have always worked together socially, educationally, really there isn’t much the Air Force doesn’t do with the community,” said Congressman Don Young. “If there is a project going on they are usually involved and Alaskans love them for that. I’ve been in communities where resident complained about the sound of aircraft, but here we look at it like an air show in our backyards.”
Through the strategic positioning of two F-35A squadrons, Eielson and Pacific Air Forces will be more capable of defending U.S. and Allied territory and respond to military contingencies throughout the region, while also providing economic growth to interior Alaska and its residents.