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Maintenance team plays important role in F-35 mission at Eielson

A maintainer working on an F-35 aircraft at Eielson Air Force Base. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)
A maintainer working on an F-35 aircraft at Eielson Air Force Base. (Sara Tewksbury/KTVF)(KTVF)
Published: May. 12, 2020 at 1:20 PM AKDT
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Now that F-35s are at Eielson Air Force Base, the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is excited to have the aircraft and start working on them.

“Maintenance is an important part of the team for these F-35s to fly, as is the rest of the base. It takes the entire Eielson Icemen team to make the mission happen,” said Major Katie Damron, commander of the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Damron says the third F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrived at Eielson last Thursday. “We’re excited to fly it this week. We’ll continue receiving aircraft, all deliveries are on schedule throughout the summer and the rest of the year and we’re receiving maintainers as well, again a mix of experience as well as brand new maintainers,” said Damron.

She says the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron is responsible for the flight line maintenance function at Eielson. “We provide on aircraft troubleshooting and repair, we service, inspect, launch and recover. For the F-35s, we are super excited to have our aircraft here and we will be providing all of those functions for the F-35 as well,” said Damron.

Damron was previously stationed at Hill Air Force Base, which has F-35s, but says the maintainers at Eielson do not always have experience working on F-35s.

“We have a mix of experience in our F-35 maintainers here, some that have been stationed at a previous F-35 base and some that are brand new maintainers, brand new Airmen in the Air Force. But across the board, all of them are excited to work on the aircraft,” said Damron.

Damron says along with the three F-35s at Eielson, there are four aircraft from Hill Air Force Base. “They were able to send them up here to help us accelerate our training for maintainers and pilots,” said Damron.

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