Hill Gets First F-35s

The first F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to Hill AFB, Utah, touched down at the base this week. Airframes AF-77 and AF-78, assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing and Air Force Reserve Command associate 419th FW, were delivered Sept. 2, Hill officials announced. “The F-35A Lightning II represents the future of tactical aviation for the United States and our allies,” said Col. David Lyons, 388th FW commander, who delivered one of the aircraft. “We’re excited to usher in a new era of combat capability for the Air Force.” Hill is slated to receive a total of 72 F-35As by 2019, becoming the Air Force’s first combat coded Lightning II unit when the jets reach initial operational capability, targeted for the latter part of next year. Hill, which is the fifth Air Force and 10th overall base to receive the Joint Strike Fighter, activated the 34th Fighter Squadron as its first dedicated? F-35A squadron earlier this summer, and plans to have at least 15 aircraft there by next summer. Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin’s F-35 program general manager, said the F-35 “provides the USAF and international partners a decisive edge over its adversaries,” according to a Lockeed Martin release.