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Hill Airmen take F-35 to Alaska for three weeks of training

Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs fly over Utah and the surrounding area on Feb 14, 2018.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Lee)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Airmen from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wing are heading north with the F-35A for three weeks of training alongside a variety of other Air Force units at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

The wings will participate in Red Flag Alaska from July 30 to Aug. 14. After Red Flag, they will stay for an additional week to conduct air-to-air combat training with F-22s and F-16s in smaller, more limited scenarios. 

This will be the first time Airmen from the 388th and 419th have participated in Red Flag Alaska with the F-35A. They will take a dozen jets and nearly 200 Airmen to include pilots, maintainers and support personnel.

Red Flag exercises have been around for decades, and are designed to provide pilots with a number of combat-realistic training scenarios that will better prepare them for situations they may face when deployed. The exercise also provides experience for maintainers, intelligence, cyber, and other support personnel.

Different from the Red Flags the wings have completed at Nellis AFB, Nevada, which focused primarily on scenarios developed for the U.S. Central Command Region, this exercise will focus on scenarios in the Pacific Command Region.

The missions will take place over the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex – more than 67,000 square miles of air space that is populated with advanced surface-to-air threat emitters and aggressor aircraft flown by seasoned pilots. The size of the airspace is key to providing realistic training with the F-35A, highlighting the platform’s strength of collecting and sharing real-time threat information across a vast formation of aircraft.

Hill’s jets won’t be the only F-35As in the fight. The 354th Fighter Wing at Eielson is currently in the process of bedding down the Air Force’s newest combat-coded F-35A unit, and the two squadrons will integrate during this Red Flag.