For those curious enough, the U.S. Air Force does spill the bean on how many of these fifth-generation fighter aircraft have allowed an Airman 1st class to snap them on camera at the same time: 42, all of them deployed with the 354th Fighter Wing (354th FW).
This particular unit was in the spotlight earlier this month, when it announced it had received its final aircraft of this kind, finalizing its status of “formidable fifth-generation fighter wing.” The arrival of the last plane means that now the Wing has 54 permanently assigned birds of this kind.
“Finally receiving our 54th F-35 and completing our combat fleet culminates the end of a two-year beddown process that our team executed without delay, in spite of the pandemic and our extreme Arctic environment,” said in a statement in mid-April, when the plane was delivered, Col. David Berkland, 354th FW commander.
“Today also marks Eielson as a premier, advanced airpower projection location.”
The 354th has been active, on and off, since 1956, as part of the Pacific Air Forces. It was activated at Eielson in 1993. The F-35s started flying in 2020, as up until then the unit’s pilots were in charge of flying F-16 Fighting Falcons.