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158th Fighter Wing trains in Florida

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard at the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 22, 2020. These Airmen will train on F-35 operations known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Davis)

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard at the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 22, 2020. These Airmen will train on F-35 operations known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Davis)

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard at the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 22, 2020. These Airmen will train on F-35 operations known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Davis)

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard

Members assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing board a C-130 assigned to the Montana Air National Guard at the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 22, 2020. These Airmen will train on F-35 operations known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Michael Davis)

A maintainer assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group works on an F-35, which is departing for training known as Southern Lightning

A maintainer assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group works on an F-35, which is departing for training known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, from the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 23, 2020. Over 100 Airmen will fly and maintain F-35 operations at Southern Lightning, utilizing their training and developing their skills while executing flying operations off-station. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Miss Julie M. Shea)

A crew chief assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group prepares an F-35 for departure to training known as Southern Lightning

A crew chief assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group prepares an F-35 for departure to training known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, from the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 23, 2020. Over 100 Airmen will fly and maintain F-35 operations at Southern Lightning, utilizing their training and developing their skills while executing flying operations off-station. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Miss Julie M. Shea)

A crew chief assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group marshals an F-35 for departure to training known as Southern Lightning

A crew chief assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group marshals an F-35 for departure to training known as Southern Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, from the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 23, 2020. Over 100 Airmen will fly and maintain F-35 operations at Southern Lightning, utilizing their training and developing their skills while executing flying operations off-station. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Miss Julie M. Shea)

An F-35 assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing departs for training known as South Lightning

An F-35 assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing departs for training known as South Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, from the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 23, 2020. Over 100 Airmen will fly and maintain F-35 operations at Southern Lightning, utilizing their training and developing their skills while executing flying operations off-station. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Miss Julie M. Shea)

An F-35 assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing departs for training known as South Lightning

An F-35 assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing departs for training known as South Lightning at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, from the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vt., Jan. 23, 2020. Over 100 Airmen will fly and maintain F-35 operations at Southern Lightning, utilizing their training and developing their skills while executing flying operations off-station. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Miss Julie M. Shea)

Vermont Air National Guard --

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – Women and men of the 158th Fighter Wing train at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, returning to Vermont in late March. Members, aircraft and support equipment departed this week for a training event known as Southern Lightning.

Over 100 airmen from primarily Maintenance and Operations Groups will fly and maintain F-35 operations throughout the training period, developing their readiness while off-station.

“This is the first opportunity to take aircraft, equipment and personnel and practice in a new environment,” said Lt. Col. Ernest Tomasi, 158th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. “We are going to capitalize on our training and lessons learned and continue to improve our processes to be ready with the F-35.”

The Vermont Air National Guard received its first two F-35 Lightning II aircraft in September 2019, and now has seven assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing. The full complement of 20 aircraft is scheduled to arrive in Vermont by summer.

As renovations to remaining flight line facilities continue and additional scheduled aircraft arrive in Vermont, the decision to conduct off-station training was planned in advance to support flying requirements and maintain conversion timelines.

Local F-35 flying operations will continue at the 158th Fighter Wing during Southern Lightning training.

For more information contact 158th Fighter Wing Public Affairs; Lt. Chelsea Clark, 802.660.5379, usaf.vt.158-fw.mbx.public-affairs@mail.mil.