Military Aviation


Hill’s fleet of F-16s is being replaced by U.S. Air Force (USAF) newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II

The 388th Fighter Wing (FW) and 419th FW from Hill Air Force Base (AFB) have deployed eight F-16s to Spain for the NATO Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) at Albacete Air Base.

Noteworthy this is the last time F-16s from Hill are being deployed overseas.

“The Tactical Leadership Program is a good opportunity for all the participating nations to work together,” explained Master Sgt. Daniel LaBrake, Combined Aerospace Logistics Coordinator and the only enlisted member from the U.S. Air Force stationed at the Spanish air base.

As told by Senior Airman Justin Fuchs, 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article NATO exercise last deployment for Hill F-16s, TLP is an annual NATO Mission Commander’s School training program and is designed to provide joint training to increase NATO air defense with participating allies.

In fact Hill AFB pilots will fly alongside 20-30 allied aircraft daily and against as many adversaries during the large force exercise (LFE). Part of the learning that goes on is how to operate safely with the different aircraft and unfamiliar environments, as well as different languages and procedures.

“This exercise is a good example of the United States’ cooperation and long-lasting commitment to the security of Europe and maintaining readiness with our NATO allies,” said Lt. Col. Surya Frickel, 466th Fighter Squadron commander.

Despite the units have been on several training deployments together, this is the first time 419th and 388th FWs are participating in TLP.

“Traditionally, squadrons stationed in Europe participate in TLP,” LaBrake said. “So it has been a new challenge to coordinate all of the moving parts so these Airmen can come overseas and get this experience.”

The deployment marks the last time the iconic multi-role fighter is scheduled to deploy from Hill AFB.

As we have recently reported Hill AFB F-16 aircraft have been flying over the skies of northern Utah for nearly 40 years.

“This is the last time the F-16 will deploy with the Hill designator ‘HL’ painted on its tail,” said Col. Michael Miles, 388th Maintenance Group commander. “We are extremely proud of the job we have done with the F-16 and we must do our best here at TLP to preserve the memory of the aircraft that is so dear to our hearts.”

Hill’s fleet of F-16s is being replaced by U.S. Air Force (USAF) newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in Oct. 2015. Hill currently has 20 F-35As and will eventually be home to three operational squadrons by the end of 2019.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Justin Fuchs / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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