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Hill Air Force Base to get F-35 fighter jet

The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced and most expensive weapons system ever developed by the U.S. military. The F-35  will start arriving at Hill Air Force Base in September.
The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced and most expensive weapons system ever developed by the U.S. military. The F-35 will start arriving at Hill Air Force Base in September.
Lockheed Martin

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The next generation fighter jet will soon arrive at Hill Air Force Base.

President Barack Obama’s new $4 trillion budget plan was released Monday. Among the things Obama wants is a 7 percent increase in defense and domestic spending that restores some automatic cuts triggered by a 2011 budget deal, the Associated Press reported. The president's budget calls for $10.6 billion for the F-35 in 2016.

The F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced and expensive weapons system ever developed by the U.S. military.

Col. Lance Landrum, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing, said getting the jets should provide tremendous fighting capability and plenty of work at Hill Air Force Base for years.

By 2019, the F-35 will be the only remaining fighter jet at Hill, according to Landrum.

"The F-35 is going to be a great airplane,” he said.

When the first F-35As arrive at Hill in September, the 388th and 419th fighter wings will be the first Air Force units to fly them.

"It's going to bring great capability for the nation," Landrum said.

He expects the fifth-generation fighter to be ready for battle by August 2016.

"It allows us to get access into places we would have a lot of trouble getting into right now. It's not only for emerging threats, but for threats that are fielded right now," Landrum said.

The F-35 goes beyond the capabilities of the F-16 with a combination of stealth, electronic attack and sensor fusion that synchronizes complex systems for the pilot, he said.

Hill will receive one or two jets every month for several years for a total of 72.

Already 23 renovation and construction projects are underway to support the F-35 to the tune of $112 million. These projects, driven by local companies and workers, are scheduled to be completed by July.

The F-35 also is expected to deliver 500 new jobs.

"That's 500 people living in the community, shopping at stores, going to restaurants and participating in the local economy," Landrum noted.

The pilots and maintainers are eager to get the new jet, he said.

"I expect it to be here at least 40 years into the future. So the skies aren't going to go quiet over Hill Air Force Base anytime soon," Landrum said.

Email: jboal@deseretnews.com