HomeNews

News Search

Hill F-35 wings reach full warfighting capability

Photo of F-35s on Hill AFB

A little more than four years after receiving their first combat-coded F35A Lightning II aircraft, Hill's fighter wings have achieved full warfighting capability. The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A Combat Power Exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Jan. 6, 2020. The exercise, which was planned for months, demonstrated their ability to employ a large force of F-35As -- testing readiness in the areas of personnel accountability, aircraft generation, ground operations, flight operations, and combat capability against air and ground targets. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

F-35 Lightning II fighter jets assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepare to taxi during a combat power exercise

F-35 Lightning II fighter jets assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxi during a combat power exercise Jan. 6, 2020. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW launched more than 50 jets to demonstrate their ability quickly employ the F-35s when called upon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

F-35 Lightning IIs assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepare to taxi during a combat power exercise

F-35 Lightning II fighter jets assigned to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepare to taxi during a combat power exercise Jan. 6, 2020. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW launched more than 50 jets to demonstrate their ability quickly employ the F-35s when called upon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

F-35 Lightning II fighter jets at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepare for takeoff during a combat power exercise

F-35 Lightning II fighter jets at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, prepare for takeoff during a combat power exercise Jan. 6, 2020. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW launched more than 50 jets to demonstrate their ability quickly employ the F-35s when called upon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Todd Cromar)

The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base

The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A combat power exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Jan. 6, 2020. The exercise demonstrated their ability to employ a large force of F-35As. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Hill’s fighter wings have reached full warfighting capability, known as FWC, for the F-35A.

The new designation occurred after a culmination of several events: receipt of the 78th and final F-35A aircraft in the fleet, amassing the full complement of necessary support equipment, and reaching a cadre of fully trained pilots and maintainers here.

The active duty 388th and Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wings had previously been designated as combat capable after the Air Force declared initial operational capability in August 2016. The first F-35A aircraft arrived at Hill in late 2015. Hill’s fighter wings are currently the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35A units.

“Since the first aircraft arrival, we’ve accomplished an impressive laundry list of milestones in just over four short years,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Engel, 466th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “A lot of hard work and dedication have gone on here behind the scenes to get us where we are today.”

In the past four years, the wings have participated in several large combat exercises, deployed twice to Europe and once to the Pacific and supported two Middle East combat deployments, including one short-notice tasking.

“In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’ve now achieved FWC because the time has gone by so fast,” he said. “I’m really proud of the transition we’ve gone through. When we started out, most of our folks were longtime F-16 maintainers and it’s been truly impressive to see their aptitude and quick transition to a fifth-gen aircraft that is so vastly different from the F-16 in its computer based advancements.”

Earlier this week, the fighter wings held their second F-35A combat power exercise, launching 52 aircraft en masse to test Airmen’s ability to deploy quickly. One of Hill’s F-35A squadrons is currently deployed.

For more on the FWC designation, read the full story.