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388th Fighter Wing completes combat exercise

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. The F-35A is a single-seat, single engine, fifth generation, multirole fighter that’s able to perform ground attack, reconnaissance and air defense missions with stealth capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

Three 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. The F-35A is a single-seat, single engine, fifth generation, multirole fighter that’s able to perform ground attack, reconnaissance and air defense missions with stealth capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- The 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron and 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit recently completed a combat exercise where they tested and evaluated their capabilities to operate the F-35A Lightning II in a deployed environment.

The units focused on combat operations and tactical scenarios – aircraft battle damage, downed-pilot recovery, and fighting in an environment with limited or no communications.

The exercise generated nearly 150 sorties in two weeks, on top of normal flying operations.

“The tempo gives our Airmen a taste of deployed operations,” said Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, 4th FS commander. “We want the first time they see these things to be in a training environment, and not when we’re called upon to deploy during a contingency.”

Pilots flew with more gear than they normally do during “home-station” operations, including side arms. Maintainers practiced loading various munitions and worked longer shifts, preparing aircraft sorties late into the evening.

The units also operated and launched jets from alternate locations and ran operations out of a secure deployable facility that houses mission planning, debrief, intelligence, and the Autonomic Logistics Information System, or ALIS, a program designed to help with operations, maintenance and planning.

“This was a big planning and execution effort for the 4th FS and 4th AMU,” said 1st Lst. Eric Dolan, officer in charge of the 4th AMU. “It was designed to challenge us and provide our Airmen with experience and acclimate our new Airmen. They came away more confident in their abilities.”

Hill Air Force Base is slated to be home to three F-35 fighter squadrons with a total of 78 aircraft by the end of 2019. 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.

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