Hill Air Force Base Welcomes F-35

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, Oct. 15 (Ryan Maass) — Air Force officials joined airmen stationed at the Hill Air Force Base in Utah in welcoming the F-35 Lightning II during a ceremony on Wednesday.

The ceremony formally marked the beginning of F-35 operations in two Air Force squadrons, the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings. The event featured speakers from Utah’s congressional delegation, Air Force leaders, and Lockheed Martin, the company producing the aircraft. 388th FW commander Col. David B. Lyons commended the F-35’s first month of performance on the base.

“The airplanes have met all our expectations in the air, but notably, we have not lost a single flight to a maintenance-related issue thus far,” Lyons said. “Obviously we can’t stay perfect forever, but if our first month is any indication, this jet is going to be a workhorse.”

Speakers also addressed emerging security threats around the world, and the importance air supremacy represents for the U.S. military. Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said the F-35 will be instrumental combating these threats in the future.

“Not only will the F-35’s advanced capabilities allow us to operate effectively in the anti-access, aerial denial environment, but the F-35 is a force multiplier. It makes every other airplane in the battlespace that much better because of what it brings to the fight,” he said.

The F-35 program has been met with both optimism and skepticism. Problems with the ejection seat and helmet were reported earlier in October, saying pilots may risk serious injury ejecting from the aircraft.



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