The 63rd Fighter Squadron received its first F-35 Lightning II aircraft March 20, 2017, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
Lt. Col. Matt Vedder, 63rd FS commander and F-35 pilot, taxied in the new aircraft from the Lockheed Martin plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to Luke AFB where it will serve as the flagship jet for the 63rd FS.
“It’s a monumental day and a huge milestone for the base,” Vedder said. “As the commander of the 63rd FS, receiving our squadron’s first F-35 provides a huge sense of responsibility and it’s something I do not take lightly.”
That responsibility is building the future of airpower.
Since the first arrival of the F-35 in 2014, the program at Luke has rapidly matured and is approaching its halfway point with the 63rd FS’s first jet.
The 63rd FS was originally activated in January of 1941, then known as the 63rd Pursuit Squadron. The squadron has over 174 aerial victories and several aces.
“We always feel a sense of responsibility in representing the squadron in which we fly,” Vedder said. “That sense is really heightened when you’re flying in the flagship. For me, it’s leading out in front and representing the men and women who make this organization happen. There are so many people that make this jet fly every day, and I’m fortunate to be able to represent them.”