First Two F-35A

The Air Force ushered in a new era of combat air power on September 2, as Hill Air Force Base received the service’s first two operational F-35As. Hill’s active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing will be the first combat-coded units to fly and maintain the Air Force’s newest fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

The first two operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrive at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The jets were piloted by Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations. Hill will receive up to 70 additional combat-coded F-35s on a staggered basis through 2019. The jets will be flown and maintained by Hill Airmen assigned to the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and its Reserve component 419th Fighter Wing (U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Lloyd)
The first two operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrive at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The jets were piloted by Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, and Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations. Hill will receive up to 70 additional combat-coded F-35s on a staggered basis through 2019. The jets will be flown and maintained by Hill Airmen assigned to the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and its Reserve component 419th Fighter Wing (U.S. Air Force photo/Alex R. Lloyd)

«Make no mistake, we’re built for this. We will deliver the combat capability that our nation so desperately needs to meet tomorrow’s threats», 388th Fighter Wing commander, Colonel David B. Lyons, told the crowd of Airmen and community members.

Lyons, who flew one of the F-35s to Hill from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, highlighted the jets stealth ability, advanced technology, avionics and sensor fusion, which allow pilots the flexibility to operate in «contested environments» and strike «tough to reach» targets.

Hill has been called the «ideal home» for the F-35 because of its proximity to the Utah Test and Training Range and Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, which performs F-35 Lightning II depot maintenance and modifications. The integration of the active duty and reserve fighter wings provides increased flexibility and combat surge capability.

«This is a great day in the history of Hill Air Force Base. We have to have these aircraft to achieve air dominance in the future for the United States», said Colonel Bryan Radliff, 419th Fighter Wing commander. «We are extremely proud to be a part of this association».

Since the basing announcement in 2013, Hill has spent more than $120 million and completed numerous renovation and construction projects to prepare for F-35 operations.

«The reason we’re here today is because of our Airmen, civilians, contractors and outstanding community who stood behind us 100 percent», said Colonel Ron Jolly, 75th Air Base Wing commander. «We know the capabilities of this aircraft. We are on the cutting edge and we’re very proud to be a part of that cutting edge».

The 388th and 419th Fighter wings were also the first units in the Air Force to fly combat-coded F-16s when they entered the fleet. The wings will receive one to two F-35s per month until 72 aircraft have been delivered.

Airmen at Hill are eager to get their hands on the new jet said Lieutenant Colonel Darrin Dronoff, chief of the F-35 program integration office for the 388th FW. Both the 388th and 419th have trained F-35 pilots ready to begin flying the new jets, and there are more pilots and maintainers currently in training. The wings will take a week to familiarize themselves with the aircraft, receive parts and begin tracking the aircraft in a maintenance database.

«The plan is to start flying after Labor Day. We’ll start by flying twice a week, but that will slowly progress as we receive more aircraft and training progresses», said Dronoff. «While flying won’t start for a week, training for maintainers starts immediately – including the Airmen who will be towing the first aircraft from the ramp to the hangar», Dronoff said.

«Everyone touching the aircraft is a formally trained F-35 Airman – hand-selected crews from pilots to maintainers to back-shop people», said Dronoff. «But, we’re also training Airmen brand new to the F-35. We’re taking advantage of every training opportunity because this is the first time many of them have had their hands on an F-35».

An F-35A Lightning II aircraft passes under a water arch at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill were selected as the first Air Force units to fly combat-coded F-35s (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)
An F-35A Lightning II aircraft passes under a water arch at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill were selected as the first Air Force units to fly combat-coded F-35s (U.S. Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

 

Specifications

Length 51.4 feet/15.7 m
Height 14.4 feet/4.38 m
Wingspan 35 feet/10.7 m
Wing area 460 feet2/42.7 m2
Horizontal tail span 22.5 feet/6.86 m
Weight empty 29,300 lbs/13,290 kg
Internal fuel capacity 18,250 lbs/8,278 kg
Weapons payload 18,000 lbs/8,160 kg
Maximum weight 70,000 lbs class/31,751 kg
Standard internal weapons load Two AIM-120C air-to-air missiles
Two 2,000-pound/907 kg GBU-31 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition) guided bombs
Propulsion (uninstalled thrust ratings) F135-PW-100
Maximum Power (with afterburner) 43,000 lbs/191,3 kN/19,507 kgf
Military Power (without afterburner) 28,000 lbs/128,1 kN/13,063 kgf
Engine Length 220 in/5.59 m
Engine Inlet Diameter 46 in/1.17 m
Engine Maximum Diameter 51 in/1.30 m
Bypass Ratio 0.57
Overall Pressure Ratio 28
Speed (full internal weapons load) Mach 1.6 (~1,043 knots/1,200 mph/1,931 km/h)
Combat radius (internal fuel) >590 NM/679 miles/1,093 km
Range (internal fuel) >1,200 NM/1,367 miles/2,200 km
Maximum g-rating 9.0
Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to Airmen, civic leaders and media after delivering an operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. Lyons, along with Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations, delivered the first two jets, known as AF-77 and AF-78, at approximately 1 p.m. MDT after a 90-minute flight from the F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas (U.S. Air Force photo/Ron Bradshaw)
Colonel David Lyons, 388th Fighter Wing commander, speaks to Airmen, civic leaders and media after delivering an operational F-35A Lightning II aircraft to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, September 2, 2015. Lyons, along with Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 34th Fighter Squadron director of operations, delivered the first two jets, known as AF-77 and AF-78, at approximately 1 p.m. MDT after a 90-minute flight from the F-35 production facility in Fort Worth, Texas (U.S. Air Force photo/Ron Bradshaw)

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