The Air Force's 388th Fighter Wing got a brand-new F-35 at 10 a.m. on August 1 - by 3 p.m., it had already set a speed record

The Air Force's 388th Fighter Wing got a brand-new F-35 at 10 a.m. on August 1 - by 3 p.m., it had already set a speed record

Air Force F-35A F-35 F35 F35A

US Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Emerson Nuñez

A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base in Utah after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Germany, July 23, 2019.

  • A new F-35 left the Lockheed plant in Fort Worth a little after 8 a.m. on August 1, and by the end of the day, the unit receiving it had already set a speed record.
  • The record for getting the aircraft up on its first combat-training mission has an important implication: It means a new F-35A could be sent right from the factory into combat.
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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) - The 388th Fighter Wing set a speed record for bringing online a newly delivered aircraft last week, flying a local sortie less than five hours after accepting delivery of its 68th F-35A Lightning II.Aircraft tail number 5261 left Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth, Texas, production facility a little after 8 a.m. August 1, landed at Hill Air Force Base at 10 a.m., and by 3 p.m. had taken off on its first combat training mission.
"The F-35A program's production and delivery plan was designed to allow rapid aircraft induction and quick use by the customers," said Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander. "We've shown the enterprise it's possible."

This isn't just a "gee-whiz" record. In theory, it means that F-35As could be deployed directly from the factory into combat if a large-scale conflict ever drives that need, Miles said.

Air Force F-35 F35 maintainers Hill Air Force Base

US Air Force/R. Nial Bradshaw

Crew chiefs with the 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit work on an F35A Lightning II at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, July 31, 2019.


When a new F-35A comes off the line at the production facility, it undergoes several contract and government check flights before the Air Force accepts final delivery. These flights generate data points that are collected in the Autonomic Logistics Information System and then passed on to the gaining unit, in this case the 388th FW.

The previous timeline for inducting new aircraft was measured in days and weeks, but process and system improvements in the data collection and transfer process bodes well for the future, said Chief Master Sgt. Trey Munn, 388th Maintenance Group chief enlisted manager."We've been working toward this goal as the program has matured and this is great step, and a testament to the work of the folks at Lockheed Martin, the Joint Program Office, and the Airmen in the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings," Munn said.

The 388th and 419th FWs are the Air Force's first combat-capable F-35 units. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in October 2015.

The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components. By the end of this year, Hill AFB will be home to 78 F-35s.