HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, May 7, 2019 (Gephardt Daily) — The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW conducted an integrated combat capability exercise April 30-May 2 at the Utah Test and Training Range.
The exercise was successful, officials said in a statement released Tuesday.
“The friendly and enemy forces were made up of F-35 Lightning IIs from Hill AFB, F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 311th Fighter Squadron at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and 80th FS at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, and a team of contracted aggressor pilots from Draken International, at Nellis AFB, Nevada,” the statement said.
“Planning and carrying out the mission as part of a large, integrated force, at a high ops tempo is always valuable training,” said Col. Michael Ebner, 388th FW vice commander, in a prepared statement. “Whenever fourth and fifth generation platforms train together it’s beneficial for everyone. It was a great learning opportunity, especially for younger pilots.”
More than 40 aircraft participated. The training provided by this type of joint exercise is usually only available during large-force exercises like Red Flag. The airspace at the Utah Test and Training Range provides Hill AFB the ability to host such a large force. Hill Airmen generated 100 F-35A missions with 22 aircraft, integrated on 56 F-16 missions and defended vulnerable assets for a 16-hour window.
The defensive counter-air exercise was designed to simulate a combat operations tempo to test the capabilities of maintainers to provide aircraft and pilots to protect the airfield from a large enemy force.
“We were severely outnumbered, we had a five to one aggressor ratio and we were tasked with defending a list of assets over an 8-hour tour time block,” said Maj. Thomas Meyer, 34th Fighter Squadron weapons officer, in the prepared statement. “We had aircraft sitting in alert status to respond to whatever enemy threats were presented.”