HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — Hill Air Force Base saw some major successes in 2019, much of it fueled by enhancements to the installation’s infrastructure, achievements in the area of warfighter readiness, and milestones reached by the base’s fighter wings.
Here’s a look at some of the top stories covered during the past year:
First metallic 3D printed part installed on F-22
A new metallic 3D printed part was installed by 574th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers on an operational F-22 Raptor during depot maintenance. The new titanium part will not corrode and can be procured faster and at less cost than the conventionally manufactured part. The availability of the part will enable faster repair and reduce the turnaround returning the aircraft back to the warfighter.
Hill cuts ribbon on new software facility
The $35 million facility offers state-of-the-art engineering labs and an agile work environment for the base’s scientist and engineer workforce. The 15,300 square feet of laboratory space will accommodate an anticipated growth of around 1,600 personnel to more than 3,000 personnel over the next decade. The construction of the facility was funded in part by the Utah state legislature that appropriated $21.5 million.
Utah reservists bring dental care to Guatemala
Air Force reservists from the 419th Medical Squadron brought dental care to underprivileged communities in Chiquimula, Guatemala, during a humanitarian mission. Lt. Col. David Jackson, commander of the 419th MDS, and Lt. Col. Brady Thomson, commander of the squadron’s dental flight, spent two weeks in the region in partnership with Hirsche Smiles Foundation, a non-profit organization that sends plastic surgery, dental, and home construction teams to underserved areas in the country.
Hill Airmen depart for F-35A’s first Middle East deployments
Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the Middle East. The aircraft arrived in country April 15 marking its first combat deployment.
F-35As deployed from Hill conduct first combat strike
Two F-35As, deployed to the Middle East from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings, conducted an air strike at Wadi Ashai, Iraq, in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve on April 30. This strike marked the F-35A Lightning IIs first combat mission. The F-35As conducted the airstrike using a Joint Direct Attack Munition to strike an entrenched Daesh tunnel network and weapons cache deep in the Hamrin Mountains, a location able to threaten friendly forces.
New software development system saves time, money and benefits warfighter
Software engineers in the 517th Software Engineering Squadron developed a new workflow system and software development methodology to significantly reduce the time it takes to deliver software to customers. The program nicknamed “The Pipeline” took a six week process, reducing it to less than an hour. Efficiencies gained by the new process offer time and cost savings, and benefit the warfighter.
Bye-bye ‘Wise Guy’ – B-52 restored to active service
A restored B-52H Stratofortress, nicknamed "Wise Guy," departed Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., May 14. A cross-functional team including personnel from the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group regenerated the B-52 that had been stored at “The Boneyard” since 2008. When the Air Force lost one of its bombers in 2016, it started a chain of events that made “Wise Guy” only the second B-52H ever to be taken from the 309th AMARG for active service.
‘The C-130 Experience’ takes flight at the Hill Aerospace Museum
The Hill Aerospace Museum completed a first of its kind, conversion of a C-130 aircraft fuselage into an interactive classroom. The C-130 is the museum’s fifth learning center classroom and was officially opened during a ceremony May 14. The major focus of the learning center curriculum includes the history of the aircraft, beginning in the 1960s through present day, and the important part it’s played in the Air Force and in the defense of the country.
New solar array added to Hill AFB power grid
Seven months ahead of schedule, Hill Air Force Base unveiled a ground-mounted solar array connected to the base’s electric grid. Power generated by the new array will be used as it is produced. In addition, it will provide Hill AFB with increased energy production that will be particularly useful during peak electrical consumption periods during the summer months. The new solar array will produce 17 times more energy than the base’s existing array that was built 10 years ago.
All-abilities playground unveiled at Centennial Park
After three months of construction, families gathered at Centennial Park June 24 for the opening of a new all-abilities playground, along with paths leading to the playground and other park facilities. Centennial Park is used for many large base events, and the new playground and associated improvements allows special needs families more accessibility to the park. The playground is wheelchair accessible and incorporates sensory areas with a mixture of music- and texture-focused equipment for children.
388th Fighter Wing welcomes new commander
The 388th Fighter Wing received a new commander June 24 as Col. Steven G. Behmer assumed command of the Air Force’s only operational F-35A Lightning II unit. Behmer took over for Col. Lee E. Kloos, the wing’s commander since June 2017. Kloos retired following a 24-year Air Force career.
Air Force Medical Reform underway at Hill AFB
The 75th Medical Group at Hill AFB was officially aligned with the Air Force’s new Medical Reform model. With the new model, dedicated provider care teams were aligned to an Operational Medical Readiness Squadron primarily focused on proactively treating military members from all uniformed services and improving their availability to support the warfighting mission. Care for non-active duty patients, primarily the families of service members and military retirees, are now handled by separate provider teams aligned to a Health Care Operations Squadron.
Ogden Air Logistics Complex welcomes new commander
Brig. Gen. C. McCauley von Hoffman became the new Ogden Air Logistics Complex commander at Hill AFB during a change of command ceremony on July 19. During the ceremony, Hill bid farewell to Maj. Gen. Stacey Hawkins who served as the Ogden ALC commander since August 2017.
419th civil engineers help relocate Alaskan village
A total of 23 personnel from the 419th Civil Engineer Squadron helped rebuild the recently relocated town of Newtok, Alaska, after melting permafrost left it uninhabitable. The 419th CES team made up of heavy equipment, utilities, planning, HVAC and electrical experts supported the rebuild project as part of their two weeks of annual tour training, which serves to hone their skills and prepare them for deployment.
A-10 Enhanced Wing Assembly replacement program comes to an end
Workers at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base installed the last of 173 new wings on A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, finalizing a project that started in 2011. The new wings are expected to last for up to 10,000 equivalent flight hours without a depot inspection. In addition, a better wire harness design was created for easier wing removal and to lessen the chance of damaging the wing during the process.
A busy year for Hill’s 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron
Just halfway into the year, Mark Dylla, the operations manager for the 75th Logistics Readiness Squadron, said the squadron has already had its busiest year since 9/11. Highlights included support to the deployment of 12 F-35As to Europe with 300-plus personnel and more than 200 tons of cargo, inspection and loading of nearly 500 short tons of bombs, missiles and bullets for missions across the globe, and the readying of 60 snow fleet vehicles, aircraft deicers and other snow removal equipment ahead of an October deadline.
Fusion splice repair passes field tests
The Air Force Sustainment Center and Air Force Research Laboratory worked with the 309th Aircraft Battle Damage Repair and Expeditionary Depot Maintenance team at Hill Air Force Base to test the feasibility of a new fiber optic fusion splice repair technique for fifth-generation aircraft. The field test demonstrated that a trained maintainer with the proper equipment can perform an acceptable fusion splice repair on an aircraft in roughly 20 minutes, once the damaged section is isolated and made accessible. The current practice of replacing a damaged fiber optic cable is an hours- or days-long process.
F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team moves to Hill AFB for 2020 airshow season
The Air Force announced its only F-35A Demonstration Team will be reassigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base beginning with the 2020 airshow season. The single-ship aerial demonstration team will display the capabilities of the F-35A at approximately 20 performances starting in March 2020 and running through November. The team, which is sponsored by Air Combat Command, previously fell under Air Education and Training Command and operated out of Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
HAFB pushes new fire trucks into service
Hill AFB’s Fire and Emergency Services acquired three new fire trucks and other equipment during the summer including a 100-foot ladder truck to replace the department’s 16-year-old truck, a new heavy-brush truck to respond to wildfires and a vehicle equipped with highly-specialized rescue tools. Fire Capt. Zachary Olds said the new vehicles enhance the department’s ability to respond to emergencies.
Construction complete on Hill Air Force Base runway project
A nine month, $44.6 million construction project providing major repairs to Hill AFB’s runway is completed. In addition to complete asphalt pavement rehabilitation and reconstruction, the 13,500-foot runway received concrete pavement repairs, wider shoulders, a widening to the south end of the runway taxiway by 55 feet, new overruns, new airfield signs, and new electrical wiring and airfield lighting. The construction renewed an aging infrastructure, and the new runway surface, built to correct standards, will be a major boost to pilot safety and will help protect Air Force assets
Hill AFB selected to host 5G testing and experimentation
The Department of Defense chose Hill AFB and three other U.S. military bases as a test bed for 5G technology. 5G is the fifth-generation of cellular network technology. Hill was selected for its ability to provide streamlined access to site spectrum bands, mature fiber and wireless infrastructure, access to key facilities, support for new or improved infrastructure requirements, and the ability to conduct controlled experimentation with dynamic spectrum sharing.
Hill fighter wings receive final F-35A Lightning II
Hill’s fighter wings received their final F-35A Lightning II Dec. 17. The delivery brings the total number of aircraft at Hill to 78. The 388 FW’s three squadrons – the 4th, 34th and 421st Fighter Squadrons – now each have 24 primary assigned aircraft with six back-up aircraft. The 419th FW’s 466th FS also supports routine F-35 operations side by side with the active duty squadrons. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill in September 2015 and since then the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th FWs have flown more than 17,500 sorties and more than 33,000 flying hours.