The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter looks like it's preparing for Arctic duty, and its pilots and crews are getting the training that they need to be able to survive in the harsh climate. In 2016 the Air Force completed a series of studies and selected Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska as the first home of the F-35 outside of the contiguous United States.

The F-35 is quite capable of performing in the subzero temperatures, but are the pilots and maintenance crews ready to deal with the brutal cold? The aircraft will be operational in Alaska within the coming year and the USAF needed to make sure that all of the equipment and the training for the crews were up to standard.

One of the significant problems that the Air Force is facing is that the survival kits that are usually stowed in the aircraft will not fit in the F-35. Members of the 356th fighter squadron have developed a new kit that was recently tested.

A Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is seen in its hanger at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in Maryland, Oct. 28, 2015. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

In a report by Defense Blog Tech Sergeant Garret Wright, who is the noncommissioned officer in charge of operations at USAF Arctic Survival School, was quoted as saying, “After realizing that the ambient room temperature was at minus 65 at the 5-hour mark, I knew that we had accomplished far more than we originally set out to.” Wright further said. “Wing leaders wanted a product that would keep pilots alive at minus 40, and although unplanned, the findings were clear that the sleep system could far surpass this goal.”

The successful creation and testing of this new survival kit will keep the transition of the F-35 aircraft to the base on schedule. The USAF is now evaluating the test results before creating more kits for the aircrews.

The Alaska deployment for the most advanced fighter in the USAF inventory is significant against the backdrop of rising tensions with Russia. A source close to the squadron, speaking to the International Business Times, pointed out that Russia is geographically very close to Alaska. F-35s based in Alaska significantly broadens the first line of defense, and the decision to station them in the Arctic as soon as they became active in the force was a well-calculated move.