If you've ever wondered what two fighter wings worth of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters looks like, you now have your answer.
Personnel from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base in Utah conducted a combat power exercise on Monday with an eye-popping 52 F-35A fighters — an exercise that included an impressive “elephant walk” of the assembled fifth-generation aircraft down a runway.
This isn't the first time that the 388th and 419th have pulled off an F-35 elephant walk: the two wings pulled off a similar display in November 2018 that saw 35 F-35s strut their stuff on a Hill AFB runway before taking off for a similar combat power exercises.
The main function of these exercises, according to the Air Force, is to test readiness “in the areas of personnel accountability, aircraft generation, ground operations, flight operations, and combat capability against air and ground targets,” namely by conducting multiple takeoffs in rapid succession.
Today we launched about 50 F-35s in rapid succession. Part of a long-planned combat power exercise with @388fw, we pushed the boundaries and tested our Airmen’s ability to deploy @thef35 en masse. We’re ready to fly, fight, and win. @usairforce @USAFReserve @USAF_ACC pic.twitter.com/QskjR6lsch
— 419th Fighter Wing (@419fw) January 6, 2020
“The elephant walk and the massive number of flights that usually go along with it are all about sortie generation and displaying a level of readiness that could be leveraged during a full-blown crisis,” as The War Zone explains.
This is critical, obviously, but the second and far more important function elephant walk is far more obvious: to look cool as hell. Take a look at the Air Force's official photos from the exercise below: