The US Air Force 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing conducted a combat power exercise, launching dozens of F-35 jets within a short period of time.

As the US Air Force’s only combat-ready F-35A units, the 388th and 419th FWs must be prepared to launch any number of aircraft to support the national defense mission at a moment’s notice, said the US Air Force in a statement.

“We are ready to fight tonight, and exercising with multiple squadrons of F-35s can demonstrate our ability to defeat potential adversaries wherever they may arise,” said Maj. Caleb Guthmann, 34th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations and exercise project officer.

The wings fly between 30-60 sorties per day from Hill Air Force Base’s flight line. During the exercise, they launched roughly the same number of sorties, and aircraft took off in 20- to 40-second intervals.

Launching aircraft from multiple squadrons simultaneously presents various challenges and allows the wings to evaluate the capabilities of maintenance professionals, as well as pilots and command and control teams according to the US Air Force.

23 COMMENTS

    • I wonder what happened to number 36. There’s a pretty obvious gap in the formation which seems a bit weird if intentional. If this was just a photo op I’m surprised they didn’t tow number 36 into place if it was an equipment issue and/or sit some random person in the cockpit if it was a personnel issue. If it really was intended to be 35 I think I’d have put the row of 3 at the front and centred the middle plane on the runway rather than have a formation that screams out “there’s one missing” even if there isn’t.

  1. I still think we need to buy more of these. Minimum of 5 squadrons/60 aircraft for frontline duties. Enough to fill a carrier for wartime and then have backup squadrons. Preferably 6.

      • Is that going to be 138 at once though or over the life of the program? If we end up with 138 total airframes in our F35 inventory then happy days. M

        • That’s over decades, the whole life of the program unfortunately. The 14 odd f35s we have now will be gone by the time we get to number 90! Air frames have a life span. We will only have 40/60 jets at once and 12 will be training ect.

          • I don’t actually think airframe fatigue will limit aircraft numbers in this case. Given that most training appears to be synthetic these days, the aircraft don’t actually fly at a high tempo. Unless there is sustained war of course. The latter airframes may replace the early ones, but I don’t think it will be as soon as 90

          • So the picture above shows pretty much what we will have available then.

            I know I’m just a silly pessimist for thinking this, but its a little frightening.

            Presumably the successor aircraft will be about 15/20.

      • We will never ever have 138 f35bs Air worthy and flying at the same time, 138 is for the life of the whole program, multiple decades!, we bough 385 tornados over the life of that program in comparison. We will lose many f35 jets for mechanical reasons and just wear and tare and air frame life. We might only ever have 4/5 squadrons flying and 1 will be a training squadron, i hope I’m wrong and we get 7/8 or more squadrons but I doubt it. I thought the f35 would take over from the tornados and we would get 138 flying like we had with the tornados! But it’s not to be unless we increase the f35 numbers and rate of delivery!…

          • Not any more, no. I think if any significant boost comes to defence spending then we should either reopen some air bases or expand existing ones. The latter would be cheaper but the former is safer if we ever come under attack.

            If not F35 then more Typhoons should be built, and use the F35s primarily as carrier strike planes.

        • I knew we would never have all 138 flying at once but at least 60-70 I’d have thought; 5 or 6 squadrons could be stood up over time, with the older airframes used for either training or spare parts.

          We have around 150 Typhoons but still have 7 squadrons of 80 odd planes out of it.

  2. As you say Russ, Nice picture!

    Read the full article, particularly the section on weapons, and then compare this to the cost of the F35, its range, and of course internal storage. I wonder how many of these we would see on the runway to make up the same payload!

    “B-1B missile and bomb payloads

    The B-1B is no longer armed with nuclear weapons but is capable of carrying the AGM-86B air launch cruise missile (ALCM) and the AGM-69 short-range attack missile.

    The aircraft has three internal weapon bays and six external hardpoints under the fuselage. The maximum internal weapons payload is 75,000lb and maximum external weapons payload is 59,000lbs.

    The B-1B weapons payload is: 24 GBU-31 joint direct attack munition (JDAM) at one time or a combination of 24 mk84 2,000lb general purpose bombs, eight mk65 naval mines, 84 mk82 500lb general purpose bombs, 84 mk62 500lb naval mines, 30 CBU-87, -89, -97 cluster munitions, 30 CBU-103, -104, -105 wind-corrected munitions dispensor (WCMD), 24 AGM-158 joint air to surface stand-off missiles (JASSM) or 12 AGM-154 joint stand-off weapons (JSOW).”

    https://www.airforce-technology.com/projects/b-1b/#3

    • One F35A can carry a total weapon load of @18000lbs , apparently, or slightly less than a Lancaster with a Grandslam !

    • Of course, B1b bombers are much larger, slower, less able to defend themselves and more expensive than an F35, as well as being for one purpose: heavy bombing, so less versatile than an F35 or Typhoon.

      • On the Speed front, The original B1A was tested at Mach 2.2 but cancelled. The B1b was re designed for a different capability and a lower top speed. The F35 has a speed of Mach 1.6 which I believe Is similar to the F18’s whereas the Typhoon has a published top speed of Mach 2 ( I always thought It was a fairly conservative claim ).

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