HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings wrapped up a local flying surge recently.
From Sept. 9-13, the 34th and 421st Fighter Squadrons flew 240 sorties, roughly doubling what they normally fly in a week.
The flying surge came right on the heels of a base-wide mobilization exercise (one of the largest to-date with the F-35A) and is the first surge since the squadrons returned to Hill AFB from deployments in Europe and at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho.
“Exercises are necessary to test our readiness… to learn where we’ll ‘break,’ identify how to fix it, and implement changes,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Cavazos, 34th Fighter Squadron commander. “It was good to get the teams back together and prove that we can man and generate a large number of sorties.”
During the surge, the pilots flew routine training missions at the Utah Test and Training Range and maintainers practiced hot-pit refueling, loading munitions, and ensured aircraft were continually ready to fly.
This week, from Sept. 23-26, the squadrons have been conducting night-flying training, which is a requirement for Airmen to remain combat-ready. It also provides a valuable opportunity to evaluate maintainer’s ability to generate sorties around the clock.
Night flying is limited to what is required and the timing is largely dependent on tanker support and air-space availability on the training range.
While the 34th and 421st train for combat, the 388th FWs 4th Fighter Squadron remains deployed to the Middle East, conducting combat operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The 388th and 419th are the Air Force first combat-capable F-35A units and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components. The wings now have three fighter squadrons with roughly 70 aircraft, the most since receiving the first F-35A in 2015.