USAF F-35s, by the Numbers

The Air Force has mapped out its operational F-35 base deployment plans through 2021, said Air Force F-35 integration director Maj. Gen. Jeff Harrigian, during a May 21 AFA Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event in Arlington, Va. First up is Hill AFB, Utah, which gets its first operational jets in September of this year, leading to initial operational capability in August of 2016. Hill gets all its jets by 2019. Next will be Eielson AFB, Alaska—a “preferred” location—which may get deliveries from July 2019 through November 2020. Eielson would get two squadrons of F-35s. Burlington, Vt., gets its jets from July 2020 through May, 2021, and Lakenheath, England—the first US overseas base—would get its aircraft from June 2021 through September 2022. Other bases yet to be identified will follow. The F-35A is already deployed at Eglin AFB, Fla., which will have 26 aircraft for pilot training, and Luke AFB, Ariz., slated to eventually have 144 jets, shared among the various F-35A partner countries. Small numbers will also be permanent resident at Nellis AFB, Nev., and Edwards AFB, Calif., for tactics and test work, respectively. Harrigian said there will be 651 F-35s of all variants in service worldwide with seven countries by the end of 2020. Some 123 F-35s of all models have been delivered as of last week. (See also Building Homes for F-35s from the March issue of Air Force Magazine.)