34th Fighter Squadron departs Hill Air Force Base for wing’s second F-35A combat deployment

Deploying pilots with the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings prepare for launch at Hill Air Force Base, Utah on Nov. 13. Photo Courtesy: Hill Air Force Base

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, Nov. 20, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base are depoying F-35A Lighting IIs into combat for the second time this year.

The 34th Fighter Squadron departed Hill last week for Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the Middle East, said a press release from the air force base.

“I’m extremely proud of all of our Airmen in the 388th and 419th fighter wings,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander, by way of the press release. “Both they and this platform are absolutely ready for this short-notice tasking, bringing the unique combat capabilities of the F-35A to the fight.”

The group of airmen is made up of pilots from the active duty 34th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, as well as active duty and reserve airmen in the 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, and personnel in other support functions.

“Our maintainers and operators have had a lot of opportunities over the past year to operate together in off-station environments,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Cavazos, 34th Fighter Squadron commander. “From simultaneous operating locations across the globe to the 24-aircraft, three-month deployment to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. We are ready. We’ve become close as a team and are willing and able to fill this combat tasking. Our training has been purposeful and we’re going to support combatant commanders with the largest F-35A combat deployment to date.”

The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, provides greater operational capability by combining advanced stealth capabilities with the latest weapons technology, the press release said.

The 4th Fighter Squadron returned to Hill two weeks ago from a six-month deployment to Al Dhafra. It was the Air Force’s first F-35A combat deployment. “The airmen supported the United States Air Force Central Command Mission in the region,” the press release said. “They performed various missions, including close air support and regional deterrence against aggressors. They also participated in multi-national exercises, strengthening partnerships and improving interoperability.”

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