The Lone Star State will be home to the first Air Force Reserve Wing of the new F-35A Lighting II advanced stealth fighter. The 5th generation fighter will be hosted by Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.
“We selected the Air Force Reserve unit in Fort Worth because it is the location that meets all of the necessary training requirements at the lowest cost,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas. “Additionally, the location will provide mission synergy and access to an experienced workforce for recruiting as a result of its proximity to the F-35 manufacturing plant.”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) welcomed the Lightning II and congratulated the men and women of the 301st Fighter Wing. “The United States Air Force informed me that NAS JRB Fort Worth has been selected to receive the first Air Force Reserve F-35 Joint Strike Fighters,” Senator Cruz stated. “After a highly competitive process, the USAF picked the 301st Fighter Wing to be the first Air Force Reserve unit to transition into the fifth-generation aircraft. I am greatly pleased that the Air Force recognized what we in Texas already knew: that NAS JRB Fort Worth and the local community offer exceptional value to the United States Air Force.”
The joint reserve base in Forth Worth was selected as one of four locations to house the new aircraft, expected to be delivered in 2023, Breitbart Texas reported in April 2016. Forth Worth was considered to be an advantageous location for the aircraft because of the base’s proximity to the manufacturing facility that sits almost next door to the airfield. Other bases considered for the assignment included Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona; Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida; and Whiteman AFB, Missouri.
The 301st Fighter Wing currently operates and maintains the F-16C+ Fighting Falcons, the wing’s website states. Under the command of Colonel Gregory C. Jones, the 457th and 355th Fighter Squadrons, along with maintenance and support squadrons, prepare their aircraft and aircrews to support the missions assigned by the President and Major Commands. The wing’s combat deployment history dates back to World War II. It currently employs about 2,000 “Citizen Airmen.”
“The 301st Fighter Wing is thrilled to be identified as the preferred location to fly this highly advanced fifth generation, “hometown built” fighter aircraft,” Colonel Jones said.
The F-35 Lightning II aircraft are expected to be delivered to the 301st Fighter Wing during the next decade. “In the hands of our Airmen, the F-35 will be the most lethal, survivable and adaptable aircraft in our inventory for decades to come,” Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein said in a written statement. “No matter how you slice it, the F-35’s stealth characteristics, maneuverability, interoperability and its ability to make other aircraft better through sensor fusion make it unmatched by any adversary.”
Senator Cruz concluded, “This selection is a true testament to the professionalism of the Airmen in the 301st Fighter Wing, the leadership at NAS JRB Fort Worth, the commitment of local Fort Worth leadership, as well as the unparalleled support for the military from the State of Texas.”
Author’s Note: The F-35 Lightning II is the second generation of aircraft dubbed “Lightning.” This writer’s grandfather, William Edward Hottle, Sr., was a test pilot for the original Lockheed P-38 Lightning during World War II. Active duty operational units scheduled to receive the F-35 Lightning include the 48thFighter Wing assigned to RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom. This writer served in that wing as an electronic countermeasures technician on the F-111Fs during the 1980s.