Good evening to you, FighterSweep Fans! As you’ve seen, it’s been a really exciting week for us here, but thankfully we’re not too busy to bring you our favorite image of the week! It is, afterall, Burner Friday!
We were very fortunate to spend time with the recently reactivated 34th Fighter Squadron, on hand as the unit received its first two F-35A Lightning IIs– the first two combat-coded Joint Strike Fighters in the Air Force. The “Rude Rams” have a very proud heritage, dating back to October 1944, when they flew the mighty Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.
Since their inception, the Rude Rams have stockpiled a service record nothing short of amazing. A 34th pilot was the first to shoot down a MiG-17 during Vietnam, where the Rams amassed more than 10,000 combat hours and earned a Presidential Unit Citation. Following Vietnam, the Rams moved to Hill Air Force Base. They were also the first squadron to receive the first combat-coded F-16 Fighting Falcons in 1979.
Thanks to budget cuts, the Rams were deactivated in 2010, and subsequently one-third of the Block 40 Vipers assigned to Hill became a thing of the past. The commander of the squadron at the time? Then-Lieutenant Colonel David “Detroit” Lyons who, incidentally, now commands the 388th Fighter Wing and was one of the pilots who delivered the first two F-35s to Hill.
We think it’s fantastic the Rams have been resurrected with the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter, and no doubt they will carry on their proud tradition as the unit becomes the first to stand up the F-35A in the Combat Air Forces.
(Featured photo by Jonathan Derden)