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First combat operational F-35s arrive at Hill Air Force Base

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Posted at 10:37 PM, Sep 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-03 11:26:16-04

By Jeff McAdam

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Hill Air Force Base is now home to the first two combat operational F-35s in the country. The two new aircraft landed at the base Wednesday afternoon as a crowd looked on and clapped.

"It flies similar to an F-16," said Colonel David Lyons, Fighter Commander. "It's very stable, has a powerful platform, and great engine."

The addition of the F-35 comes as the F-16 is slowly phased out. By 2019, Hill Air Force Base will have 72 F-35 fighter jets.

“I would think with the F-35 here, it will keep Hill viable for years," said Lieutenant Colonel Yoseph Morris.

Pilots say one of the plane's best assets is it's stealth ability, and easy functioning.

"If a pilot does something wrong, it will forgive it and fly them out of it kind of thing,” said Colonel Lyons.

Hill Air Force Base officials say the price tag for each plane runs about $100 million. They say, as of now, there is no clear date for when the F-16 will be completely phased out of operation. The fighter planes are current in Afghanistan and Iraq.