F-35A Arrives At Eielson for Testing
(Source: US Air Force; issued Oct 13, 2017)
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft lands at Eielson AFB, Alaska. Note that the aircraft’s bomb bay doors are open, which is necessary to cool it down after a flight as heat management remains an issue for the F-35. (USAF photo)
EIELSON AFB, AK. --- An F-35A Lightning II landed at Eielson AFB Oct 12 to participate in testing several aspects of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft.

This test’s purpose has two major outcomes: certifying the Norwegian drag-chute and demonstrating that the entire fleet of F-35As are capable of landing at a runway condition reading (RCR) of 7.

The RCR scale is based on how wet and dry each runway is. A RCR 23 is considered a dry runway while an RCR 5 is compared to landing on ice.

“The F-35A is currently certified to land at an RCR of 12,” said Capt. Daniel Campbell, the 354th Fighter Wing F-35 PIO director of mission support. “This test is important to the base because it will help certify the F-35A to operate at an RCR of 7. The 354th Civil Engineer Squadron and 354th Operations Support Squadron try to keep our runway at an RCR of 12 or better during the harsh winters, but often are below that. We need the lower RCR certification to ensure the F-35A can operate throughout our winters.”

In April 2016, it was officially announced the base was scheduled to receive two squadrons of F-35As as well as approximately 3,500 Airmen, contractors and their families. Construction began in early 2017 for projects regarding the F-35As arrival.

According to Kevin Blanchard, the 354th FW F-35 PIO director, in addition to the F-35 flight simulator that was started in March 2017, a contract for a propulsion maintenance hangar, additions to the maintenance field training detachment, and several other projects have been awarded to various companies.

Eielson will continue to prepare for the 2020 arrival of the F-35As while still completing the primary mission of prepare, deploy and enable. As always, the Icemen Team will remain “Ready to go at 50 below!”

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