First “Alaskan” F-35A Lightning II With Unusual Black Tail Markings Spotted At LM’s Fort Worth Plant

The first F-35 sporting the 356th FS markings. (Image credit: Matt Ellis)

This is the first F-35 sporting markings of 356th Fighter Squadron based at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. And here are some interesting details.

On Mar. 10, 2020, the F-35A 18-5345/AK, the first Lightning II jet for the 356th Fighter Squadron belonging to the 354th Fighter Wing based at Eielson AFB (AK) was photographed during a test flight at Lockheed Martin’s plant Fort Worth, Texas, by Matt Ellis.

The aircraft, along with the “354 OG” and PACAF markings shows a few more interesting things: first, the unusual black tail markings (the F-35s usually have light grey ones); second the 356th FS badge on the air intake. The latter seems to be the low-rez version of the emblem of the 356th TFS that was worn by the unit’s A-7s and A-10s until the squadron was inactivated at Myrtle Beach AFB in 1992.

The F-35 photographed by Matt Ellis at Ft Worth. Highlighted is the 356th FS patch inherited from the 356th TFS and the unusual black markings (Image credit: Matt Ellis/The Aviationist)

The squadron was reactivated on Oct. 10, 2019 and assigned, as mentioned above, to the 354th Fighter Wing that is set to receive its first three F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters in 2020. The number of Lightnings is expected to grow to 54 within two years.

Eielson’s overall fleet is expected to grow from 30 aircraft to 84, a number that also includes nine KC-135 Stratotankers from the Alaska Air National Guard and 21 F-16 Fighting Falcons, Stars and Stripes reported.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.