The United States Air National Guard ushered in a new era of air power capability as its first to stealth jets F-35s, AF17-5265 and AF17-5266, arrived at the Vermont Air National Guard Base in Burlington.
“The arrival of the F-35 is a significant milestone for the Green Mountain Boys of the Vermont Air National Guard and state of Vermont. The incredible hard work and dedication from our Airmen and the support from our families and community have brought us to this very moment,” said Col. David Smith, 158th Fighter Wing commander. “The F-35 provides tremendous capability and secures our future for decades. We will continue to be ready to answer our state and nation’s call.”
With stealth technology, advanced sensors, supersonic speed and superior range, the F-35 is the most advanced, survivable and connected aircraft in the world. More than a fighter jet, the F-35’s ability to collect, analyze and share data, is a powerful force multiplier that enhances all airborne, surface and ground-based assets in the battlespace enabling men and women in uniform to execute their mission and return home safely.
As a new 5th generation fighter right from the Lockheed Martin production line in Fort Worth, the F-35As’ arrival represents the first time the Guard has received new production fighter jets of any kind in recent history. Seven new F-35As will arrive in Vermont through 2019 and the base is on track to receive a total of 20 F-35s. The first F-35A with 158th FW markings made its first flight from Lockheed Martin Ft. Worth facility on Jul. 31, 2019.
“As the Air National Guard’s legacy aircraft age and threats advance, the F-35 is essential to maintaining air power now and for decades to come,” said Greg Ulmer, Lockheed Martin vice president and general manager of the F-35 program. “We are proud to partner with and build on the Guard’s rich legacy as we deliver the 5th Generation of air power to the Air National Guard. The men and women of the Guard deserve the most advanced technology – and with the F-35, they will always be a step ahead.”
With the addition of the Vermont Air National Guard Base, F-35s are now operating from 19 bases worldwide. More than 425 F-35s have been delivered and more than 890 pilots and 8,230 maintainers have been trained. Eight countries have F-35s operating from a base on their home soil and seven services have declared Initial Operating Capability.
The 158th Fighter Wing, located in South Burlington, Vermont, is the first Air National Guard unit to receive the U.S. Air Force’s fifth-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II. The Vermont Air National Guard, federally recognized in August of 1946 with the 134th Fighter Squadron, remains a premier fighter wing ready to serve the citizens of the state of Vermont and nation when called upon. The Vermont ANG ceased their F-16C/D Block 30 operations on Apr. 6, 2019, after flying the “Viper”for 33 years. The F-35 Lightning II marks the ninth mission aircraft that the Green Mountain Boys will receive, maintain and fly, providing readiness to the total force for several decades to come. This arrival marks a significant time in the Green Mountain Boys’ history and the future of Air National Guard and Air Force missions.
Photo credits: Lockheed Martin / Angel del Cueto, 158th Fighter Wing / Tech. Sgt. Ryan Campbell