Eielson Air Force Base selected for USAF's first operational overseas F-35A
The US Air Force (USAF) has selected Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska, as the home base for its first operational overseas F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
The move follows analysis of the location's operational considerations, installation attributes, environmental factors and cost.
As part of the decision, Eielson will receive two squadrons of F-35As to join the wing's F-16 Fighting Falcon aggressor squadron.
USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James said: "Alaska combines a strategically important location with a world-class training environment.
"Basing the F-35s at Eielson AFB will allow the Air Force the capability of using the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex (JPARC) for large force exercises using a multitude of ranges and manoeuvre areas in Alaska.
"This, combined with the largest airspace in the Air Force, ensures realistic combat training for the Defense Department."
The location of the AFB will enable the USAF to take advantage of approximately 65,000 square miles of airspace for the training purposes.
Construction of the required facilities to house the aircraft is expected to commence in 2017.
Currently under development in three versions, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multi-role fighter aircraft variants will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the USAF, the F/A-18 for the US Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the US Marine Corps.
Image: Eielson Air Force Base selected as the new home for the Air Force's first operational overseas F-35A Lightning IIs. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force / Chad Bellay.