Stunning 'Elephant Walk' at Hill Air Force Base Showcases 52 F-35s on Flight Line
Jan 10, 2020
by Edmund DeMarche
An Air Force base in Utah staged a massive "elephant walk" that featured 52 of one of the country's most advanced fighter jets launching in a row.
The F-35A II Lightning fighters were part of the Active Duty 388th and Reserve 419th fighter wings at the Hill Air Force Base in the northern part of the state. The base is home to 78 of the Fifth Generation fighters.
"Today's exercise marks the accomplishment of over four years of work -- a little over four years ago, we received our first F-35," Col. Michael Ebner, 388th Wing vice commander, said. "We now have our full complement of aircraft and locally, we turn this into a goal of full war-fighting capability."
An "elephant walk" refers to the close formation of military aircraft before takeoff.
The base reportedly said the exercise has been planned for months but comes at a time of extreme tension between Iran and the U.S. as President Trump last week ordered the killing of a top general in Iraq. The 388th Fighter Wing tweeted a photo of the rows of jets on the runway and wrote, "We are now at full warfighting capability."
The 388th is an operational unit that has already sent one F-35A squadron overseas on a deployment to the Middle East. That unit has since returned and a second F-35A squadron from Hill is now deployed in that region.
"The message is not just to potential adversaries, but it's also to our nation's leadership that they can count on the 388th Fighter Wing to support the combat power that they plan and require us to provide," Ebner said.
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Photo caption: The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A Combat Power Exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah early this month. 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/R. Nial Bradfshaw)
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