52 F-35 Fighter Jets Launched In Show Of Readiness
HILL AIR FORCE BASE – Carefully lined up one after another on the runway, 52 F-35 fighter jets took off in a large-scale exercise Monday morning.
“It’s been thousands of people; thousands and thousands of hours to get to where we are,” 388th Fighter Wing Vice Commander Colonel Michael Ebner explained. “Just having aircraft is one thing, but to be able to deploy it to our combatant commanders around the world, is a significant milestone.”
That’s the main reason behind Monday’s exercise, which Ebner said the wing ultimately started preparing for when their firs F-35 arrived four years ago. The timing with tensions in Iran is coincidental. Ebner said the date was set months ago.
“The message is not just to potential adversaries, but it’s also to our nation’s leadership,” Ebner said. “They can count on the 388th fighter wing, to support the combat power that they supply and expect us to provide.”
Both the 388th and the 419th reserve wing took part in the exercise. In addition to the dozens of pilots in the air, Ebner pointed out that hundreds of others who maintain the fleet helped make it happen.
“It does become a little bit of a challenge to launch that many aircraft or that percentage of our fleet all at once,” Ebner said. “So it does take coordination to make sure everything is ready to go.”
Still, Ebner said the fleet could do it again with little notice. And while they don’t often fly in such large numbers, airmen run similar drills on a regular basis.
“It’s not a whole lot different from what we do on a day to day operation. We fly anywhere from 40 to 80 sorties a day here,” Ebner said.
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