CNN

US Air Force Conducts First Ever F-35 Fighter Jet ‘Elephant Walk’

Nov 21, 2018, 12:57 AM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:02 pm

Dozens of stealth fifth-generation fighters from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and 419th Reser...

Dozens of stealth fifth-generation fighters from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and 419th Reserve unit participated in the exercise, which is intended to demonstrate the Air Force's ability to "launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment's notice," according to the service. Credit: Cynthia Griggs/GS-11/ACC/US Air Force Photo

(CNN) — The US Air Force conducted its first so-called “elephant walk” drill using F-35 fighter jets Monday, launching dozens of aircraft in a condensed period as part of what the service called a “combat power exercise” at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Dozens of stealth fifth-generation fighters from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and 419th Reserve unit participated in the exercise, which is intended to demonstrate the Air Force’s ability to “launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment’s notice,” according to the service.

Fighter wings launched between 30 and 60 aircraft in 20- to 40-second intervals, according to the Air Force. That is roughly the same number of jets dispatched from Hill AFB on a typical day.

“We are ready to fight tonight, and exercising with multiple squadrons of F-35s can demonstrate our ability to defeat potential adversaries wherever they may arise,” said Maj. Caleb Guthmann, the assistant director of operations and exercise project officer of the 34th Fighter Squadron, in a statement.

“During the exercise, the wings confirmed their ability to employ a large force of jets against air and ground targets, demonstrating the readiness and lethality of the F-35 Lightning II,” according to the Air Force.

“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 service said in its statement.

While the Air Force has previously staged similar drills with various types of aircraft including helicopters, Monday’s exercise was the first of its kind involving the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Monday’s show of force comes as the US military continues to struggle to improve the readiness of its air fleet around the world.

In October, Defense Secretary James Mattis ordered 80% of all jets, including the military’s combat-ready squadrons of F-35s, be mission-ready at any given time by 2019.

The first US combat mission conducted by an F-35 happened last month, when a Marine Corps jet launched off the amphibious warship USS Essex struck targets in Afghanistan. In May, Israel announced it had conducted the first combat missions ever using the F-35 but offered few details.

Other nations that have signed contracts to join the F-35 program include the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Denmark and Norway, according to the Pentagon.

The Air Force has 156 F-35 aircraft in inventory, the Marine Corps has 61 and the Navy has 28.

The F-35 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready.

The jet, which has reduced capability to be seen by adversary radars, has been a favorite of President Donald Trump, who has lauded the F-35 several times for being “invisible.”

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

CNN

The Wu-Tang Clan originated as a group of rappers from Staten Island, New York in the 1990s....

Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Fans can finally get a chance to listen to the Wu-Tang Clan’s one copy album… but there’s a catch

A truly one-of-a-kind album is on display for the public to see. The only catch is, it's in Tasmania.

6 hours ago

FILE - A Massachusetts disabled combat veteran is speaking out about being attacked by a grizzly be...

Shaun Ganley, CNN

Man describes grizzly bear attack in Grand Teton National Park

A Massachusetts disabled combat veteran is speaking out about being attacked by a grizzly bear in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

11 hours ago

The Chaise Longue airplane seat -- designed by Alejandro Núñez Vicente, pictured left, is back. N...

Francesca Street, CNN

The double-level airplane seat is back. This time, there’s a first-class version

And now the double-level airplane seat is back – only this time, with a twist for first class.

12 hours ago

Over 600 works of art were put on display in the Central Institute for Restoration’s offices, fro...

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN

US returns $80 million-worth of stolen artifacts to Italy

Over 600 stolen artifacts were put on display in Italy, from life-size bronze statues to tiny Roman coins.

14 hours ago

A painting by Italian master Caravaggio entitled 'Ecce Homo' is pictured at the Prado museum in Mad...

Jack Guy, CNN

Lost Caravaggio goes on display after almost being sold at auction for just $1,600

A lost Caravaggio painting that was almost mistakenly sold at auction for a bargain price has gone on display in Madrid, Spain.

17 hours ago

A Spirit Airlines flight returned to Montego Bay, Jamaica after a suspected mechanical issue on its...

Amanda Jackson, Dave Alsup and Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN

Spirit Airlines passengers told to prepare for possible water landing after mechanical issue

The cabin of a Spirit Airlines flight from Jamaica to Florida became a scene of panic and confusion Sunday when passengers were told to prepare for a possible water landing after the aircraft was turned around due to an apparent mechanical problem, a passenger told CNN.

18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 Internet Safety Tips for Kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

US Air Force Conducts First Ever F-35 Fighter Jet ‘Elephant Walk’