Navy’s West Coast air base is getting its first F-35C fighter jets

Published: Jan 19, 2017
FRESNO

The first F-35C fighter jets to be based at Lemoore Naval Air Station, the Navy’s West Coast air base, will arrive next week, the Navy said.

Four are to arrive Wednesday morning.

To mark the event, an arrival ceremony will be held at which Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet naval air forces, will speak.

The jets will join the recently reactivated VFA-125 squadron, which will serve as the West Coast fleet replacement squadron for the F-35C, also known as the F-35C Lightning II. The squadron will train pilots and personnel. When at full strength, the fleet replacement squadron is forecast to bring an estimated $36 million annual payroll to the region, said John Lehn, CEO of the Kings County Economic Development Corp.

“It’s economic activity,” he said. “It’s always helpful.”