Next Three F-35A Basing Locations Defined

The Air Force’s new F-35A fleet basing strategy lays out the parameters for the next three operational locations for the stealth jet, service spokeswoman Ann Stefanek told Air Force Magazine on Monday. She said the Air Force just notified Congress of the new strategy. Two of these three locations will be Air National Guard bases; they are expected to receive their first F-35As in July 2022 and January 2023, respectively, she said. The third location will be an Air Force Reserve Command site slated for its first F-35A in May 2023, she said. It will be the first F-35A base for the Reserve. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James tweeted that she briefed the 54 National Guard adjutants general on the new operational locations on Monday. Stefanek said the Air Force plans to use its “standard basing process to determine the locations.” She added, “We hope to be able to create active associations for all three.” The new strategy builds upon the Air Force’s first F-35A fleet basing strategy from 2009. Under the latter, the Air Force set the stage for its first three Active Duty operational locations, the first Air Guard location, and two training sites. After the process of determining candidate sites and measuring factors like cost and environmental impact, the Air Force chose as these locations, respectively: Eielson AFB, Alaska; Hill AFB, Utah; RAF Lakenheath, Britain; Burlington ANG Station, Vt.; Eglin AFB, Fla.; and Luke AFB, Ariz. The service still has to issue the record of decision for Eielson to codify that choice.