HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The 421st Fighter Squadron here received its first F-35A Lightning II Dec. 12. The squadron is the last of three squadrons in Hill’s 388th Fighter Wing to take possession of combat-ready aircraft, bringing the 388th Fighter Wing closer to full strength.
The United States Air Force’s first operational F-35As landed at Hill Air Force Base in October 2015. Since then, the 34th and 4th Fighter Squadrons and Aircraft Maintenance Units stood up and generated nearly 10,000 sorties with more than 15,000 flying hours.
The arrival of the first jets in the 421st brings the total number of F-35As at Hill to 52 and is a big step toward the 388th Fighter Wing having a full complement of 78 F-35A Lightning IIs by the end of 2019.
The 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit, which will support the 421st Fighter Squadron, has been preparing to receive the aircraft for some time by maintaining and launching jets loaned from the wings two other squadrons.
“The 421st has a proud history in the 388th Fighter Wing and we’re all excited to receive our first aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Richard Orzechowski, 421st Fighter Squadron commander. “Our pilots and maintainers have been working hard and we’re ready to fill the squadron out and fulfill the wing’s mission: to rapidly employ combat power.”
The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the F-35A in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.