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Hill Air Force Base receives last of 78 F-35A Lightning II aircraft

By
Sommer Brokaw
The U.S. Air Force announced Thursday that Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has received its 78th F-35A Lightning II. File Photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes/U.S. Air Force/UPI
The U.S. Air Force announced Thursday that Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has received its 78th F-35A Lightning II. File Photo by Senior Airman Keifer Bowes/U.S. Air Force/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 19 (UPI) -- A U.S. Air Force base in Utah has received it final F-35A Lightning II aircraft, bringing the total number there to 78.

The delivery of the final F-35A Lightning II combat aircraft to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, occurred on Dec. 17, the U.S. Air Force announced on Thursday.

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"This is a great milestone," said Col. Steven Behmer, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing. "It marks the end of the beginning for us. Since receiving our first aircraft, our Airmen, alongside the 419th Fighter Wing, have remained focused on expanding the combat capabilities of the F-35A."

Airmen from the wings based at Hill are currently deployed in the Middle East, "in support of combat operations," and have flown some of the first combat sorties involving the aircraft.

The U.S. Air Force conducted its first combat mission with the fifth-generation fighter in May when two F-35As struck an entrenched Islamic State tunnel network and weapons cache at Wadi Ashai, Iraq.

The active duty 388th and Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wings have flown more than 17,500 missions and more than 33,000 flying hours since the first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in September 2015, the Air Force said.

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