U.S. Air Force prepares F-35’s Airmen for Arctic operations
The U.S. Air Force prepares trained personnel and equipment to respond to contingencies and emergencies in the Arctic, according to a recent service news release.
In preparation for the arrival of the Department of Defense’s newest fifth-generation fighter, Airmen assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing tested a new arctic survival kit for the F-35A Lightning II in downtown Fairbanks, Alaska.
In April 2016, the Air Force made an announcement that changed Eielson AFB history. After a lengthy analysis of the installation’s operations, environmental factors and cost, the Secretary of the Air Force selected Eielson AFB to be the first operational U.S. Air Force location outside the contiguous United States to receive the F-35A Lightning II.
There is no question the F-35, which already completed developmental testing in sub-zero temperatures, will be coming to Alaska in 2020. Currently, Air Force needed to have trained personnel and special equipment for work in an extremely cold-weather environment.
A team of Airmen from the 356th Fighter Squadron, F-35 Program Integration Office, 354th Operation Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment and 66th Training Squadron, Detachment 1, used a subzero chamber to replicate the extreme temperatures of interior Alaska.
The test was performed because the current arctic survival kit won’t fit in the allotted space under the seat of an F-35A. The 354th FW is expecting to receive its first F-35A in April of 2019.
“We are testing the kit that Tech. Sgt. John Williams, Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Ferguson and myself have developed over the last year in preparation for the integration of the F-35,” said Tech. Sgt. Garrett Wright, 66th TRS, Det. 1 Arctic Survival School noncommissioned officer in charge of operations.
Four members of the team, to include Lt. Col. James Christensen, commander of the reactivated 356th Fighter Squadron, stepped into two separate chambers, one at minus 20 and the other at …read more
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