F-35B Lightning II marks an aviation first at JBER

January 18, 2017 (by SSgt. Mike Campbell) – On any given day at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, you can hear the sound of freedom as F-22 Raptors circle the mountains and come in for landing. There was a different tone to that sound Jan. 9, as the Marine F-35B Lightning II joined the orchestration.

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USMC F-35B Lightening II #169293 from VMFA-121, 3rd MAW out of MCAS Yuma, stopped at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska en route to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan on January 12, 2017. VMFA-121 was the first operational F-35B squadron in the Marine Corps. [USAF by SSgt. Mike Campbell]

“There aren’t a lot of firsts in the world; they happen once and that’s it and it’s always amazing when you see it first-hand,” said Col. Christopher Ogren, 477th Fighter Group commander.

JBER got the rare opportunity to be part of one of those historic moments last week when the crew from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 stopped by with their F-35Bs while transitioning from Yuma, Arizona, to Japan.

“This operation is good for the F-35 and its crew to experience the harsh environment of Alaska,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Andre Villanueve, F-35B maintenance control member. “Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is a great base, the Air Force took care of our crew and our aircraft.”

“This is a first for an operational F-35 squadron in Alaska,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cassidy Cleinmark who works as an F-35 Avionics Maintenance Control Marine. “This is an unprecedented movement for the F-35 operational unit.”

The F-35 is the newest aircraft to enter the world of fighter jets, but, fifth-generation fighters aren’t new to JBER. The last time was the F-22 Raptor in August, 2007, when the base became the first Pacific Air Forces installation to receive the aircraft, which joined the 3rd Wing and Air Force Reserve Command’s 477th Fighter Group.

Master Sgt. Mark Ling, who works as an F-22 expeditor for the 90th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, was one of the first 477th FG aircraft crew chiefs to work on the F-22 Raptor.

“In 2007, the F-22 Raptor was the aircraft maintainer’s top choice to learn and work on,” he said. “It was a new jet…

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