As the Air Force’s only combat-ready F-35A units, the 388th and 419th FWs must be prepared to launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment’s notice
The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base (AFB) conducted a combat power exercise on Nov. 19, launching dozens of F-35A Lightning IIs within a condensed period of time.
The drill also included a typical “elephant walk,” the first ever for the F-35.
An elephant walk is a U.S. Air Force (USAF) term referred to the taxiing of military aircraft right before takeoff, when they are in close formation.
As the Air Force’s only combat-ready F-35A units, the 388th and 419th FWs must be prepared to launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment’s notice.
“We are ready to fight tonight, and exercising with multiple squadrons of F-35s can demonstrate our ability to defeat potential adversaries wherever they may arise,” said Maj. Caleb Guthmann, 34th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations and exercise project officer, in the USAF news release.
The wings fly between 30-60 sorties per day from Hill’s flight line. During the exercise, they launched roughly the same number of sorties, and aircraft took off in 20- to 40-second intervals.
Launching aircraft from multiple squadrons simultaneously presents various challenges and allows the wings to evaluate the capabilities of maintenance professionals, as well as pilots and command and control teams.
The primary mission of the 388th Fighter Wing is to maintain combat readiness to deploy, employ, and sustain F-35A Lightning II aircraft worldwide in support of the national defense. The 419th Fighter Wing instead is Utah’s only Air Force Reserve unit. The unit offer a diverse range of combat capability to include operations and maintenance on the Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II.
Photo credit: Cynthia Griggs / U.S. Air Force
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com