The US Air Force activated its first combat squadron to fly the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II. During a ceremony at Hill Air Force Base in Utah on 17 July, the 34th Fighter Squadron stood up from the ashes.
The 34th was also the first fighter squadron to receive the F-35s predecessor. On 8 December 1975 the first General Dynamics (later Lockheed Martin) F-16A Fighting Falcon landed. Many older non-US pilots know the unit well, with jocks from the Royal Netherlands Air Force, Belgian Air Force, Royal Danish Air Force, Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Israeli Air Force all having gone through initial qualification training on the F-16 in the early 1980s.
AFter its final 6 month F-16 deployment to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan in support of NATO/ISAF operations, the 34th Fighter Squadron was decommissioned as part of a restructuring of the US Air Force. Later this year to be equipped with the first F-35As, the squadron is back on first row flying America’s newest fighter jet.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): On 13 September 2013 this F-35A Lightning II became the first ever to at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The aircraft from the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron underwent post-production modifications at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex. (Image © Alex R. Lloyd / US Air Force)