HomeNewsArticle Display

Hill AFB fighter wings conduct combat exercise

The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-35A takes off during a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-35A taxis during a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-35A taxis during a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-16 lands during a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-16 lands during a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

An F-35A takes off during a combat exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 1, 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, along with F-16 units from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and Kunsan Air Base, Korea, conducted an integrated combat exercise where maintainers were tasked to continually provide ready aircraft and pilots took off in waves to simulate a large force engagement with enemy aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) --

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 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.

“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. “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.

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 eight-hour tour time block,” said Maj. Thomas Meyer, 34th Fighter Squadron weapons officer. “We had aircraft sitting in alert status to respond to whatever enemy threats were presented.”

Aircraft rotated into the fight on a continual basis for more than eight hours. If the enemy was successful in making it through the defenses and hitting a target, the friendly force was penalized by losing time to generate aircraft as maintainers took cover.

“One of the principle directives we’ve been given in the F-35 program is to integrate, and generally we only fly against other F-35s here,” said Maj. Jondavid Hertzel, 421st FS weapons officer. “This is a great opportunity for us.”

During the exercise F-35A maintainers were working to generate sorties at a steady rate, safely and efficiently.

“We’re testing everything associated with generating a combat sortie, from our weapons loading to aircraft production,” said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Spraberry, 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “We’re doing everything on a much more compressed schedule,”

On a normal flying day at Hill AFB, there may be eight to 10 aircraft that take off at once, then eight to 10 more jets several hours later. During this exercise, four-ship sorties launched every 30-45 minutes throughout the day.

Maintainers had to be ready for the jets to land, refuel, reload and take off again, generating a total of 44 sorties a day. They worked in “cells.” Each cell was made of crew chiefs, weapons and avionics technicians and overseen by a senior non-commissioned officer responsible for keeping up to four aircraft ready for flight.

“Normally our maintainers have two to three hours to turn an aircraft, so having to do so every 30 minutes really tests their skill,” said Capt. John Goodwin, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintenance operations officer. “These exercises are an extremely effective and essential way to ensure our overall readiness.”

The 388th and 419th FWs are the Air Force’s first operational combat-capable F-35 units, having received the first jets in October 2015. They fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components. By the end of this year, Hill AFB will be home to 78 F-35s.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AirNatlGuard: "We talk about lining ourselves up with our sister services and joint efforts to make sure we accomplish our mission; the…
RT @AFResearchLab: The year is 1947. The @usairforce officially broke the sound barrier with the Bell X-1 aircraft. This incredible feat w…
RT @theF35JPO: Congratulations to the @AusAirForce for completing their #F35 training mission at @LukeAFB! 🇦🇺 ⚡ Learn more 🔗 https://t.co/2…
RT @CENTCOM: A French Rafale conducts nighttime air refueling with a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender assigned to the 380th Air Expeditionary…
RT @DeptofDefense: Jumping from a plane becomes a big step toward friendship. 301 soldiers and airmen from @USArmyReserve, @usairforce, and…
Explosive Disposal Ordnance (EOD) Airmen are often assigned to some of the most dangerous missions and perform tact… https://t.co/xYc9Ip5psn
Start this year by supporting your #Airmen in their pursuit of #resiliency. Learn about common triggers of invisibl… https://t.co/6gJSfJKvcK
RT @OHNationalGuard: The @180thFW hosted members of the Nigerian Air Force recently Officers visited the 180FW in search of #bestpractice
RT @HiAirGuard: Airmen from 154th Security Forces Squadron became first responders during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear…
RT @US_SOCEUR: U.S. #airmen assigned to the 352d Special Operations Wing perform maintenance on a CV-22B #Osprey aircraft in Szolnok, #Hung
RT @HQ_AFMC: The @AFResearchLab s X-60A program achieved a key developmental #milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsio…
RT @DeptofDefense: If you want to get there as fast as possible, don’t stop for gas. ⛽ That’s why the @usairforce relies on airmen like Tec…
RT @DeptofDefense: Press ▶️ to learn more about @USAFCENT, the command that provides air & space warfighting capabilities to help defeat v…
Airmen with the Puerto Rico Air National Guard provide support at the “tent cities” to support Task Force South and… https://t.co/zg2yT0LqpS
Even the most advanced aircraft in history requires extensive maintenance performed by Airmen on the ground to kee… https://t.co/Kpv8JlzYIc
RT @AirMobilityCmd: Throwback Thursday and #TankerThirstThursday are the same game. Throwing it back to last month when a KC-135 Stratotank…
If you thought the C-5M Super Galaxy was cool before, wait until you hear @RichardHammond describe it and its capab… https://t.co/jbYbdyHx5q
Air National Guardsmen from @105AW are on the ground in Puerto Rico with their counterpart, @PRNationalGuard, provi… https://t.co/ZwzhCEpWY4
RT @HAFB: Join us for the Hill Air Force Base 80th Anniversary Celebration from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Jan. 18 at the Hill Aerospace Museum! A nu…
Ranges are crucial to the training and readiness of our warfighters. Get an inside look at how they prepare to figh… https://t.co/i5CnbpBGAw