Hill’s Fighter Wings to conduct F-35A combat power exercise

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

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah, Jan. 5, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — Hill’s 388th and 419th Fighter Wings are planning a combat power exercise Monday, and will launch dozens of F-35A Lightning IIs within a condensed period of time, officials said.

Hill’s fighter wings are home to 78 aircraft, said a news release from Hill Air Force Base. During the exercise, the local community will see increased flying operations between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

“As the Air Force’s only combat capable 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 news release said. “Last year, they began regularly supporting combat operations with the F-35A with consecutive deployments.”

From April to Oct. 2019, the 4th Fighter Squadron deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, and conducted combat operations in support of the Central Command mission in the region, the news release said. In October, the 34th Fighter Squadron departed on the wing’s second combat deployment. The 421st Fighter Squadron is ready to deploy whenever called upon.

“We are at full strength and our airmen are ready to continue to deploy this aircraft wherever we’re needed to meet any adversary,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander.

Currently, the wings fly between 30-60 sorties per day from Hill’s flight line. During the exercise, airmen will launch roughly the same number of sorties, but they will take off in minimal intervals.

“This combat power exercise will allow us to test and demonstrate our ability to generate a large amount of air power in a minimal amount of time,” Behmer said.

Launching aircraft from multiple squadrons simultaneously will present various challenges and allow the wings to evaluate the capabilities of maintenance professionals, as well as pilots and command and control teams.

“The exercise is part of normal, scheduled training operations and not a response to any current events,” the news release said.

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