The 388th Fighter Wing from Hill Air Force Base (AFB) has sent four F-35A Lightning IIs across the Pacific North West to Eielson AFB, Alaska.

The aircraft, after the four-hour flight, will become a part of the 354th Fighter Wing’s inventory for the next two months.

Experienced maintainers have also been provided with the aircraft to Eielson AFB.

388th Fighter Wing commander Colonel Steven Behmer said: “From our experience here, we know that when you’re standing up a new programme, every day is critical.

“By loaning them these four aeroplanes, we hope it helps fast-forward their ability to train and bring more capability to the airforce as a whole.”

The aircraft join the first two F-35As delivered by Lockheed Martin to Eielson AFB.

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As per the schedule, Eielson AFB will receive two or three F-35s per month from the company until early 2022 until it has a total of 54 aircraft in two squadrons.

354th Operations Group commander Colonel David Skalicky said: “We’re in the initial stages of F-35 operations here, and right now I’ve got more pilots than aircraft.

“We’ve been going TDY to get the sorties and hours we need, but Covid-19 put an end to that. So, the timing of this loan couldn’t be better.”

The aircraft are required by pilots to conduct four-ship combat training sorties and the maintainers for hands-on training. The extra aircraft will allow the groups to prioritise the opportunities.

The four aircraft were selected to avoid any routine maintenance downtime. Additionally, the jets will have the same parts and components in supply as the jets received by Eielson AFB.