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Air Force launches dozens of F-35 stealth fighters for combat-power exercise in Utah

F-35A Lightning II's from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, land at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017. The aircraft arrival marks the first F-35A fighter training deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

Dozens of the Air Force’s most advanced stealth fighters took to the air at a quick-fire pace during a combat-power exercise this week out of Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Thirty-five F-35A Lightning IIs were launched in about 11 minutes for Monday’s drill, according to the Desert News of Salt Lake City.

The sorties, which happened at 20- to 40-second intervals, were designed to evaluate the capabilities of pilots, maintainers and command and control teams, an Air Force statement said.

Hill houses the only two combat-ready F-35A fighter wings — the 388th and 419th — and airmen must be prepared to launch the aircraft at a moment’s notice, the statement added.

“Exercising with multiple squadrons of F-35s can demonstrate our ability to defeat potential adversaries wherever they may arise,” Maj. Caleb Guthmann of the 34th Fighter Squadron said in the statement.

The F-35A is used for a variety of objectives, including anti-air, anti-surface and anti-ship combat, and electronic warfare. The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings typically fly 30-60 sorties per day from Hill’s flight line, the Air Force said.


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