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Five More F-35 Fighter Jets Arrive at Eielson

KUAC file photo

The buildup of advanced F-35 fighter jets continued this week at Eielson Air Force Base, with the arrival of five more of the advanced warplanes.

“We had five planes arrive on Wednesday, and that actually helps to round out our inventory to 20 F-35A Lightning IIs,” says Eielson spokesperson Staff Sgt. Kaylee DuBois. “So, we’re growing our inventory. And by the end of 2021, we should have all 54 jets on base.”

DuBois said today that the buildup is on schedule, despite ongoing coronavirus precautions.

“The coronavirus hasn’t impacted the operations at Eielson, including the arrival of people or aircraft,” she said.

DuBois says as part of the buildup, Eielson’s population has grown by some 15-hundred Air Force servicemembers and their families. And she says base officials are standing-up a new unit that will oversee the next batch of F-35s to arrive early next year.

“Today, we are reactivating our 355th Fighter Squadron,” she said, “and so that squadron will actually be getting jets in April.”

Once all 54 F-35s have arrived, the new unit along with the existing 356th Fighter Squadron will both have 27 of the jets under their command.

Reporting from Delta Junction, I’m Tim Ellis.

Editor's note: This story has been revised to correct two source errors:
1.) All 54 F-35s are scheduled to arrive at Eielson by the end of 2021
2.) Family members are among the 1,500 people who've come to Eielson this year as part of the F-35 buildup.

Tim has worked in the news business for over three decades, mainly as a newspaper reporter and editor in southern Arizona. Tim first came to Alaska with his family in 1967, and grew up in Delta Junction before emigrating to the Lower 48 in 1977 to get a college education and see the world.