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434th ARW helps deliver first F-35s to Vermont ANG

By Master Sgt. Ben Mota | 434th ARW Public Affairs | Sept. 20, 2019

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. —

The 434th Air Refueling Wing’s 16 KC-135R Stratotankers were developed to help fighters fight longer, but recently they were part of a mission helping deliver two new F-35 Lightning II aircrafts to their new home.

The 434th ARW refueled two F-35s over the Midwest Sept. 19, during their delivery to the 158th Fighter Wing out of Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vermont.  The National Guard unit is the first Air National Guard unit to receive the aircraft.

“I’m so excited to refuel these aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Deborah Wood, 74th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, as she watched the aircraft approach the tanker for fuel. “This is my first time refueling an F-35, and it’s truly amazing.”

The F-35 is the U.S. Air Force’s latest fifth-generation fighter. It will replace the Air Force’s aging fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II’s, which have been the primary fighter aircraft for more than 20 years.

The two F-35s with only four hours of flight time were the first of 20 aircraft the unit will receive.

“This is among the most incredible days in my 31 years with the Vermont Air National Guard and I could not be more proud of our Airmen for their dedication and commitment to our great state and nation,” said Col. David Smith, 158th Fighter Wing commander. “I want to thank all of our service men and women past and present for their contributions to get us to this moment.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. Men and women from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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