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    Why Pentagon is Beefing Up Its Alaska Presence ‘Literally in Sight’ of Russian Border


    Last week, Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan announced that the US would deploy 150 F-22 and F-35 fighter jets to his state, and said that they, as well as the construction of America's first deepwater port in the Arctic Circle, will send a ‘message' to Russia and China about US power projection capabilities in the Arctic.

    The 150 Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II jets expected to be deployed to Alaska will constitute one of the largest, if not the biggest single US deployment of fifth-generation stealth fighters anywhere in the world, given estimates that the Air Force at present operates 187 F-22s and fewer than 250 F-350s in total.

    The 356th Fighter Squadron at Eielson Air Force in central Alaska received its first two F-35s in April, with four more on loan from Hill Air Force Base in Utah for training purposes. The 356th was reactivated in October 2019, becoming both the northernmost US fighter squadron, and said to be capable of targeting any part of either or the Asia-Pacific region, according to military officials.

    By late next year, Eielson is expected to beef up its personnel numbers, with about 1,500 airmen set to arrive on base by December 2021, nearly doubling the existing contingent of 1,750 active-duty personnel. Some 54 F-35s (two squadrons' worth) are expected to be delivered in the same period. The Pentagon expects to spend some $500 million on base construction to accommodate the new troops and aircraft, including…

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