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Hill Air Force Base launches record number of F-35s

OGDEN, Utah — Officials say the Hill Air Force Base recently launched a record number of F-35 fighter jets to demonstrate military capabilities.

The Standard-Examiner reports Hill’s 388th and 419th Fighter Wings conducted the combat power exercise Monday, launching 35 F-35A Lightning IIs over about an 11-minute period.

Three U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs, assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, conduct flight training operations over the Utah Test and Training Range Feb 14. (Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee/Air Force)
F-35 squadron ramps up ops tempo, tests for combat deployments

The Air Force’s 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, pumped out 150 sorties in the past two weeks, in addition to the unit’s normal flying operations, to test their capabilities to operate the F-35A Lightning II in a deployed environment.

Col. Michael Ebner, 388th FW vice commander, says the operation was the most Lightning IIs simultaneously launched in the history of the Air Force's F-35A program.

Ebner says in addition to sharpening certain combat flying skills, the effort also was intended to demonstrate the wings' ability to conduct a large-scale combat deployment at a moment’s notice.

Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Senior Airman Justin Fuchs/Air Force)
Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. (Senior Airman Justin Fuchs/Air Force)

Ebner says launching aircraft from multiple squadrons at the same time presented several challenges and allows the wings to evaluate the capabilities of pilots, maintainers and command and control teams.

Ebner says Hill currently has 47 F-35s.

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