Alaska Delegation Celebrates Arrival of F-35s at Eielson AFB
Advanced electronic warfare capabilities enable the F-35A to locate and track enemy forces, jam radars, and disrupt attacks. Photo by Airman 1st Class Connor J. Marth | US Air Force
US Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Congressman Don Young welcomed the arrival of the first two F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft to Eielson Air Force Base.
Fifty-four F-35As and roughly 1,300 personnel will be based at Eielson by the end of 2021.
“The arrival of the first F-35s is truly an exciting day for our military, Interior Alaska, and for our state as a whole. This has been a long time effort by the Alaska Congressional Delegation, the Tiger Team, and the military, and I congratulate everyone who played a part in making this a reality,” said Senator Murkowski. “The importance these squadrons of F-35s will play in our national defense, while also providing our airmen with incredible, real-world training is unparalleled. With these extraordinary aircraft now calling Eielson Air Force Base home, we further strengthen our nation’s defense capabilities and ensure we are utilizing Alaska’s geo-strategic location. These fifth-generation fighters give us critical advantages over our adversaries and will better safeguard our nation. This is an extraordinary milestone for Alaska and the Arctic Region.”
“The arrival of the first F-35As today is a bright spot in the middle of a challenging time—for Alaska, for Fairbanks and North Pole, for the U.S. Air Force and, most importantly, for our nation’s security,” said Senator Sullivan. “Alaska is the most strategic place in the world and now, with these two squadrons of F-35As, our state will soon be home to more than 100 fifth-generation fighters. America’s adversaries will certainly think twice before engaging our country when faced with this unparalleled force and firepower. But this historic day did not come easy. We all remember a time when the future looked bleak for Eielson AFB. Nonetheless, Alaskans did what they do best – circled the wagons and put our grit and determination to work, advocating day and night to ensure the new gold-standard in supersonic fighter aircraft found its home in the Interior. Community support won the day, and I congratulate the Fairbanks/North Pole Tiger Team, our local mayors, the community councils, and everyday Alaskans for never giving up on Eielson AFB. I join all Alaskans in celebrating the arrival of the F-35As as we look forward to welcoming – with open arms – the rest of the airframes, the airmen and crews, and their families to Alaska. Aim High!”
“Today is an incredible day for Alaska! It marks the culmination of years of tireless efforts by the Alaska Delegation, including by the late Senator Ted Stevens,” said Congressman Young. “Years ago, Eielson Air Force base was facing closure. We not only prevented that, but with the delivery of the F-35, Eielson has come back even stronger. These cutting-edge fighters are an important tool for our national defense, and Alaska is a location of great strategic importance. The leaders who helped make this happen – from Fairbanks and North Pole, across Alaska, and in Washington, D.C. – deserve our gratitude for helping to bring the F-35 to Fairbanks. I hope that when those in Fairbanks and across our state look up into the sky and see one of these jets, they are filled with great pride knowing that Alaskans are helping to keep our nation safe, and our world secure. The F-35 will bring pilots, maintainers, and their families to Fairbanks, and I want to welcome these new Alaskans to our 49th state; we are happy to have you. I am truly grateful to everyone who helped make today a reality. May God Bless Alaska, and may God Bless our great nation!”
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- The F-35A Joint Strike Fighter is a 5th Generation stealth aircraft designed to operate jointly between military services and allied countries as the quarterback of air combat. The F-35A is capable of air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, electronic warfare, and delivering nuclear weapons.
- Announced by the U.S. Air Force in April 2016, the two squadrons of F-35As will ultimately bring 54 new aircraft and approximately 2,765 new residents to Interior Alaska. The first aircraft are scheduled to be delivered in April 2020, with a total of 54 to arrive by December 2021.
- The two squadrons of F-35As will join the reactivated 356th Fighter Squadron, which will join the 18th Aggressor Squadron of F-16s and the 168th Air Refueling Wing currently assigned to Eielson AFB.
- From Fiscal Year 2016 to 2020, the Alaska congressional delegation authorized and appropriated $533 million in military construction directly related to the bed-down of the F-35A at Eielson Air Force Base, bringing thousands of construction and associated jobs to Alaska.
In This Issue
Alaska’s Giving Pipeline
Few large foundations support “the general good” or social service projects in Alaska, so the Last Frontier has a pretty thin philanthropic layer, according to United Way of Anchorage Vice President Cassandra Stalzer. However, the oil and gas industry has a history of stepping in and filling the gaps in Alaska communities by providing money and volunteers for myriad charitable efforts in the state.