Hill F-35As transition to Idaho’s Mountain Home during runway closure

Lt. Col. Maxwell Cover, assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxis during Forward Area Refueling Point training at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 26, 2019. This was the first time FARP training was conducted by an MC-130J for the F-35A aircraft as it expands its reach and capabilities. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Luke Kitterman

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, May 29, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The 34th Fighter Squadron and 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit will transition F-35A Lightning II operations to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, as the runway at Hill Air Force Base closes for construction this week.

“More than 250 Airmen from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings and up to 24 aircraft will make the trip over a two-month period,” said a press release from Hill Air Force Base on Wednesday.

Hill’s runway is undergoing a $43.6-million repair and expansion, the press release said. The unit will continue flying there until the current phase of runway construction is complete, which is scheduled for early August.

While at Mountain Home, the squadron will conduct normal operations, as well as participate in exercises and integrate with other Air Force units.

“They are scheduled to fly every weekday that is not a holiday or scheduled down day,” the press release said. “The majority of the flying will take place around the base and the range complex with no flying projected near Boise or its surrounding areas.”

The 34th FS also operated out of Mountain Home in June 2016 during a mock deployment used to gauge readiness prior to the Air Force declaring Initial Operational Capability for the F-35A, the press release said.

“The squadron departs as the 4th FS is deployed to the Middle East and the 421st FS is deployed to Europe,” the press release said. “This is the first time that all three squadrons have been gone since the wing received the F-35A in 2015.”

The 388th and 419th FW are the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35A units, maintaining the jets in a Total Force partnership that utilizes the strengths of both components, officials said.

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