Alabama Air National Guard welcomes three F-35s, the most sophisticated fighter jet in the world

F-35
Governor Kay Ivey gave remarks welcoming the F-35 Fighter aircraft to the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Wednesday December 6, 2023 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor’s Office /Hal Yeager)

The 187th Fighter Wing, a unit of the Alabama Air National Guard, received three F-35 Lightning II fighter jets at Dannelly Field in Montgomery on December 6th

Nicknamed the Red Tails, the Alabama unit is the third Air National Guard to receive the jet. The F-35 Lightning II is considered the, “most lethal, survivable and connected fighter jet in the world.”

A decade in the making

Montgomery
Governor Kay Ivey gave remarks welcoming the F-35 Fighter aircraft to the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Wednesday December 6, 2023 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor’s Office /Hal Yeager)

Work to bring F-35s to the 187th began more than a decade ago. In 2017, Dannelly Field was chosen as one of the preferred National Guard locations for the jet.

“It is an honor to be able to fly one of the first F-35’s home. I have always looked up to the Tuskegee Airmen and can confidently say we will continue their legacy using the F-35’s. Everyone at the wing has been hard at work preparing for this moment and it is finally here. I am excited to see everyone and to be back after months of pilot training preparing for this special day.” 

~ Lt. Col. Richard Peace, a pilot for the 187th Fighter Wing from a news release

A tradition that dates back to World War II

Montgomery
Governor Kay Ivey gave remarks welcoming the F-35 Fighter aircraft to the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Wednesday December 6, 2023 in Montgomery, Ala. (Governor’s Office /Hal Yeager)

The lineage of the Red Tails dates back to the P-51 Mustang in World War II, and most recently the F-16 Viper. The F-35 Lightning II will now take its place.

Governor Kay Ivey welcomed the new planes to Alabama on Tuesday, December 5th with an official ceremony. Below are photos from the event.

Over the next five years, the unit will receive a total of 20 F-35’s. Construction over the next several years will total approximately $112 million. The wing is projected to be fully operational by 2026.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington
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