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Alabama chosen to serve as home base for US Air Force F-35 jets

December 26, 2017 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing was selected after being one of the five Air National Guard sites to be considered for the new F-35 Lightning II jet. Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson announced this on on Thursday.

Red Tail F-16D from the 100th FS

“I am thrilled and very pleased that the 187th Fighter Wing has been chosen as the home for the new F-35 fighter jet,” Governor Ivey said at a news conference. “This announcement is huge for the River Region, it is huge for Alabama and is certainly a welcome gift for us as we approach Christmas. The decision to send the F-35 to Montgomery is a testament to the quality of our people and our workforce, and further cements Alabama’s reputation as the leading aerospace state in the nation.”

The F-35A is a 5th Generation fighter jet that combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Three variants of the F-35 will replace legacy fighters for the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and 10 other countries around the world. According to the Air Force, the F-35A will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years.”

The 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard currently includes a squadron of F-16 fighter jets, a combat communications group, an RC-26 reconnaissance aircraft squadron, and an eagle vision unit. The 187th was one of five Air National Guard units on the short list to receive the F-35.

Once production is concluded, the 187th Fighter Wing will receive the F-35 to replace its F-16 jets, the culmination of a two-year recruiting process. The project means $3 billion in investment and the addition of 1,000 jobs in the coming years.

Additional images:

USAF F-35A #13-5079 taking off on February 2nd, 2017 from Nellis AFB for a Red Flag 17-1 mission. [Photo by Nate Leong]