U.S. Air Force Conducts Combat Power Exercise, Launches 35 F-35A Lightning II Stealth Jets in 11 Minutes

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) 388th and 419th Fighter Wings based at Hill Air Force Base conducted a combat power exercise Nov. 19 and launched 35 F-35A Lightning IIs within about 11 minutes.

As the Air Force’s only combat-ready 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 wings fly between 30-60 sorties per day from Hill’s flight line. During the exercise, they launched roughly the same number of sorties, and aircraft took off in 20- to 40-second intervals.

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

The first operational F-35s arrived in Hill AFB in September 2015. The base is slated to be home to three F-35 fighter squadrons with a total of 78 aircraft by the end of 2019.

Hill Air Force Base houses the USAF’s 388th Fighter Wing (388FW) and the 419th Fighter Wing (419 FW). The 388FW is a USAF unit assigned to the Twelfth Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC) while the 419 FW is a USAF Air Reserve Component (ARC) assigned to the Tenth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC).

The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW will fly and maintain the jets in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.

The Hill-based fighter wings recently performed their 10,000th sortie with the F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft.



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