- Associated Press - Friday, October 6, 2017

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) - A fighter jet will be at Eielson Air Force Base for testing this month.

The F-35A Lighting II will be the first of its kind to visit Eielson, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported (https://bit.ly/2z2umsr). It’s a multipurpose fighter plane designed to replace older fighters, including the Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcons, the A-10 Warthog, the Navy’s aircraft carrier-based F-18 Hornet and the Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II “jump jet.”

The F-35 is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history. Each one costs about $95 million. The U.S. plans to buy more than 2,400 of them and sell hundreds to allies.

354th Fighter Wing Cmdr. David Mineau plans to talk with community leaders about the F-35A’s mission in Alaska in mid-October.

The planes will not be used by the two squadrons set to come to Eielson in 2020. Construction began during the summer to prepare for the arrival of the two squadrons, along with about 3,000 airmen and their families, civilian employees and contractors.

President Donald Trump has expressed mixed support for the F-35 program. In December, he criticized the program’s cost in a tweet and suggested instead buying F-18 Super Hornets. But then on Tuesday during his visit to Puerto Rico, he described the plane as “an expensive plane, that you can’t see,” and said his administration has cut the price of the plane substantially.

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Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, https://www.newsminer.com

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