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F-35 wings test combat capability

Staff Sgt. Justin Crosby, a reservist in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepares an F-35A Lightning II to receive munitions

Staff Sgt. Justin Crosby, a reservist in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepares an F-35A Lightning II to receive munitions Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The team moved quickly and methodically to load an inert bomb onto the jet before it conducted a simulated targeting mission. Reservists participated in a two-week exercise to simulate a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

Tech. Sgt. Brian Hansen, a reservist in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, guides a GBU-39 bomb into an F-35A Lightning II weapons bay

Tech. Sgt. Brian Hansen, a reservist in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, guides a GBU-39 bomb into an F-35A Lightning II weapons bay Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The team moved quickly and methodically to load an inert bomb onto the jet before it conducted a simulated targeting mission. Reservists participated in a two-week exercise to simulate a deployed environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

Capt. Dylan Meador, F-35 pilot in the 388th Fighter Wing, performs post-flight checks after leading two consecutive offensive counter-air sorties during an exercise

Capt. Dylan Meador, F-35 pilot in the 388th Fighter Wing, performs post-flight checks after leading two consecutive offensive counter-air sorties during an exercise Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Pilots the 388th FW and 419th FW participated in a two-week exercise that included night flying, surge operations, and roughly 80 sorties per day. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

Senior Airman Deneen Clark and Staff Sgt. Aften Garcia, weapon loaders in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepare an F-35A Lightning II to receive flares during an exercise

Senior Airman Deneen Clark and Staff Sgt. Aften Garcia, weapon loaders in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, prepare an F-35A Lightning II to receive flares during an exercise Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Flares are an aerial infrared countermeasure used by the fifth-generation fighter jet to counter a heat-seeking surface-to-air missile or air-to-air missile. Pilots and maintainers from the 419th Fighter Wing are required to train at night to maintain combat readiness and all-weather capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

An Airman monitors an F-35A Lightning II during a hot pit refuel

An Airman monitors an F-35A Lightning II during a hot pit refuel Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Airmen from the active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing participated in a two-week exercise to simulate a deployed environment. Exercises such as night flying operations are crucial to prepare the Airmen for real-world situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

An Airman directs an F-35A Lightning II pilot to stop for a hot pit refuel with the aid of marshalling wands

An Airman directs an F-35A Lightning II pilot to stop for a hot pit refuel with the aid of marshalling wands Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The Airmen from the 419th Fighter Wing and 388th Fighter Wing practiced hot pit refueling during a base-wide, Total Force exercise. Exercises such as night flying operations are crucial to prepare the Airmen for real-world situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Phil Cowen)

Airmen from the 388th Operations Support Squadron and the 419th Operations Support Squadron render self-aid buddy care to a fellow Airman during a training exercise

Airmen from the 388th Operations Support Squadron and the 419th Operations Support Squadron render self-aid buddy care to a fellow Airman during a training exercise Sept. 16, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. Airmen train regularly to administer first aid and were evaluated in scenarios during the base-wide exercise. The 419th Fighter Wing participated in the two-week exercise alongside the active duty 388th Fighter Wing and 75th Air Base Wing in an effort to simulate real-world deployment and to evaluate operational agility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

Airman 1st Class Alexander Armitage, avionics technician in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, dons mission oriented protective posture gear during an exercise

Airman 1st Class Alexander Armitage, avionics technician in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, dons mission oriented protective posture gear during an exercise Sept. 16, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The gear protects Airmen from chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear agents that could be used in a contested environment. Reservists in the 419th Fighter Wing participated in a two-week exercise where they practiced donning MOPP gear to prepare them for real-world situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Pham)

A slow shutter speed captures Airmen conducting a hot pit refueling of an F-35A Lightning II during night operations

A slow shutter speed captures Airmen conducting a hot pit refueling of an F-35A Lightning II during night operations Sept. 14, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The effect was chosen to highlight how quickly the Airmen move into action to complete the task at hand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Phil Cowen)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing participated in a rigorous training exercise this week aimed at testing their combat capability. Pilots and maintainers from the wings have been flying and generating roughly 80 sorties per day, some into the nighttime hours.

“Conducting an exercise during a pandemic is a very good way to assess the wing’s capabilities in a contested environment,” said Col. Matthew Fritz, 419th FW commander.

The wings are required to train at night to maintain their combat readiness and all-weather capabilities. This exercise provided combat scenarios created to evaluate aircraft maintenance and operational agility.

Personnel from the 419th FW participated in the exercise as part of their yearly annual tour requirement. Most of the wing’s reservists have fulltime jobs in the local community and serve their nation part time, training one weekend per month and two weeks per year.

“Team Hill is working together to practice as we would play in a deployed environment,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th FW commander. “We are a whole team – active duty and reservists – and the work is done seamlessly.”

The exercise tests the reservists’ readiness and abilities when faced with tasks more frequently than in a normal drill weekend.

Airmen from both wings are currently deployed in the Middle East.

Hill AFB is home to 78 F-35A Lightning IIs. The 388th and 419th are the Air Force’s first combat-capable F-35A units and operate in a total force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both active duty and Reserve components.

(The 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs office contributed to this story)