ICYMI: Air Force Secretary Visits Eielson, Clear, Utqiagvik & Kotzebue

North Pole, Alaska – Last week, U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (both R-Alaska) hosted Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Barbara Barrett for her second visit to Alaska this year. The senators and Secretary Barrett extensively toured the 354th Fighter Wing, including the 18th Aggressor Squadron and the newly-formed 356th Fighter Squadron, at Eielson Air Force Base (AFB) and the 213th Space Warning Squadron at Clear Air Force Station (AFS). Senator Sullivan then joined Secretary Barrett for a visit to Utqiagvik and Kotzebue where they had meetings with numerous Alaska Native leaders.

“Every time I visit one of Alaska’s military installations, I am reminded of how capable and professional our military members are and how much our Alaska communities love the military,” said Senator Sullivan. “It was a pleasure to tour both Eielson and Clear, along with Senator Murkowski, as we hosted Secretary Barrett for her second visit to Alaska. Through this visit, Secretary Barrett deepened her already extensive knowledge about the Arctic and the ongoing great power competition that is occurring in this strategic region. Furthermore, I am confident that the secretary understands the critical importance of missions in Alaska performed by active-duty Air Force and Alaska Air Guard personnel standing side-by-side in defense of our country.”

Of particular note, the senators and Secretary Barrett were able to view one of the eight F-35As that have already arrived at Eielson, 54 of which will be based there by the end of 2021. 

“Watching the live-stream nearly two months ago, like many Alaskans, I was extremely excited to witness the first two of Alaska’s F-35s land at Eielson,” said Senator Sullivan. “Last week, touring this amazing airframe up close and in-person, seeing the ‘AK’ on the tail flash, and speaking with the airmen who fly and maintain this aircraft made that arrival two months ago all the more real. It brought back the memories of our joint effort with the Fairbanks and North Pole community to fight to bring these fifty-four fifth-generation fighter aircraft to Eielson, as well as all of the important construction that is coming along with them – more than $600 million worth of it. It was a great day.”

During their visit to Clear AFS, the senators and Secretary Barrett heard from the men and women of the 213th Space Warning Squadron who currently operate the Upgraded Early Warning Radar and will soon host the Long Range Discrimination Radar, both of which are critical to America’s mission defense.

“Each time I visit Clear, I am incredibly impressed by the caliber of service members who sit watch, every hour of every day of the year, in defense of our nation,” said Senator Sullivan. “While most Americans may not know about them, we can all rest a little sounder at night knowing that these courageous airmen and guardsmen are vigilantly watching the skies and helping to protect our great country.” 

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