Wednesday, January 8, 2020
USAF LAUNCHES 52 COMBAT READY F35A’S IN RAPID DEPLOYMENT DRILL
The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW conducted a combat power exercise here Jan. 6, launching 52 F-35A Lightning IIs in rapid succession.
The fighter wings are home to 78 aircraft, which cost $85 million each. As the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35A units, the wings must be prepared to launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment’s notice. Last year, they began regularly supporting combat operations with the F-35A with consecutive deployments.
From April to October 2019, they deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, and conducted combat operations in support of the Central Command mission in the region. In October, they departed on their second combat deployment.
Currently, the wings fly 30-60 sorties per day from Hill’s flightline. During the exercise, Airmen launched roughly the same number of daily sorties, but they took off in quick intervals.
Launching aircraft from multiple squadrons simultaneously presents various challenges and allows the wings to evaluate the capabilities of maintenance professionals, as well as pilots and command and control teams.
The exercise was part of normal, scheduled training operations and not a response to any current events.
By comparison, the F-16 fighter in the U.S. arsenal costs $19 million each.
So far, 4,604 F-16’s have been built by General Dynamics.