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  • U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II arrives for first Middle East deployment

    The U.S. Air Force’s fifth generation multi-role aircraft arrived for its first deployment to the Middle East on April 15, 2019. The F-35A Lightning IIs are from active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. As the first deployment to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, crews are prepared and trained for the AFCENT mission.
  • F-35A crew swap provides flexibility for training, combat

    Maintainers and pilots in the 388th Fighter Wing recently completed the first operational rapid crew swap exercise with the F-35A Lightning II. Other aircraft like bombers, tankers, helicopters, and twin engine fighters have been doing ‘hot crew swaps’ for some time. Until now, it hasn’t been safe to do with a single engine fighter, but the F-35’s maintenance-friendly design provided Airmen here an opportunity to develop this capability.
  • 729th Air Control Squadron exercises to bolster readiness

    From Jan. 22-Feb. 7 the 729th Air Control Squadron at Hill Air Force Base engaged in a comprehensive, two-phase readiness exercise. Throughout the military, ‘readiness’ is a common term and one that encompasses the minimum standards required by all deployable units in order to qualify as mission capable.
  • F-35A maintainers, special ops team for forward refueling

    America’s most advanced aircraft integrated with a variant of one of its oldest and truest airframes this week to provide more combat flexibility to the Air Force. For the first time, Airmen from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah, and Airmen from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron and the 27th Special Operation Logistics Readiness Squadron here, trained and carried out a Forward Air Refueling Point (FARP) operation from the MC-130J to the F-35A. During this forward refueling scenario, an MC-130J lands at a remote airfield secured and managed by Air Force combat controllers. The C-130 crew, made up of loadmasters and fuels troops, or “Farpies,” quickly set up equipment and fuel lines, then transfer fuel from the MC-130J to other aircraft landing behind them – in this case, an F-35A.
  • Mastering the ins and outs of NDI

    A team of instructors traveled from the Ogden Air Logistics at Hill Air Force Base to conduct weapon system training with Airmen assigned to the 1st Maintenance Squadron non-destructive inspection unit Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Feb. 11-15, 2019.
  • Hill Airmen, F-35 a lethal combo at Red Flag

    Airmen from the 388th Fighter Wing’s 4th Fighter Squadron wrapped up flying operations with the F-35A Lightning II in an “exponentially more challenging” Red Flag. The 4th FS integrated the F-35A into a large, capable “Blue Force” in diverse missions against an equally capable “Red Force.” Nearly 3,000 personnel from 39 separate units participated in the exercise, including the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force.
  • Red Flag strengthens F-35A maintainers

    After more than two weeks launching F-35A sorties at Red Flag 19-1, maintainers with the 388th Fighter Wing are impressed with the jet and the young airmen who help maintain it. The 4th Fighter Squadron and 4th Aircraft maintenance unit brought 12 jets and more than 200 Airmen from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to Red Flag for the three week exercise. Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier combat exercise and pits a friendly “blue” force against an enemy “red” force in challenging combat scenarios. “This is about as close as you’re going to get to a deployed environment. We’ve been able to sustain a very aggressive schedule and keep the mission-capable rate high,” said Master Sgt. Paul DeGrechie, production superintendent with the 4th AMU. “The F-35 was designed to be maintenance friendly, and that’s been the case here.”
  • 'Trial by Flag' for new F-35A pilots

    The desert screams by below. The clouds scream by above. Both stretch on into the horizon. It’s deceptively calm in the cockpit. There’s a constant, seemingly discordant stream of chatter coming through his helmet. The digital screens in front of him, along with images projected onto his visor, provide enough information to save lives and take a few as well. In the sky ahead are more than 60 advanced enemy aircraft, flown by some of the best fighter pilots in the world. They are hunting – looking to kill him and his wingmen. He just graduated pilot training. Welcome to Red Flag.
  • Helping F-35A pilots operate, survive at Red Flag

    The F-35 is lethal and survivable in almost any environment, but it’s just a machine, unable to do anything without a skilled pilot. Those pilots need gear to interface with the jet, operate and survive. Outfitting the pilots is the job of the Airmen in the 388th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment shop. A handful are currently deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for Red Flag 19-1. Red Flag is the Air Force’s premier combat training exercise where units from across the Air Force join with allied nations in a “blue force” to combat a “red force” in a variety of challenging scenarios over three weeks.
  • 'Lethal' F-35A heading to Red Flag 19-1

    Pilots and maintainers from the 388th Fighter Wing are bringing the F-35A and ‘increased lethality’ as they take a lead role in Red Flag 19-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, From Jan. 26 - Feb. 15, approximately 200 Airmen from Hill AFB, including reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing, will participate in what is known as the Air Force’s premier combat training exercise. The 388th FW debuted the F-35A Lightning II at Red Flag in 2017 and came away with a 20:1 kill ratio.
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