Idaho Deployment to Push F-35 Limits
Eight F-35A aircraft and 160 personnel from Hill Air Force Base will depart this week for rigorous operational testing at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, through June 17. This marks the first time Hill's operational F-35s will travel out of state for training.
The F-35A pilots and maintainers from Hill's active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing will push the aircraft to their limits to simulate deployed operations and ensure the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft are performing as expected.
"Mountain Home is an ideal location for our first off-base exercise because it allows us to fully test the deployment capability of the unit and the aircraft while remaining close enough to Hill for home station support if needed," said Lt. Col. Curtis Pitts, commander of the 419th Operations Group, detachment 1.
"We're going to do our best to stress our entire system while at Mountain Home," said Maj. Luke Harris, deployment project officer and F-35A pilot with the 34th Fighter Squadron. "Our biggest focus areas are the number of sorties we can generate, the number of sorties that may be lost, loading and employing our weapons, and finding any unique issues with the F-35A."
The Air Force's first operational F-35 arrived to the 388th FW's 34th FS in September 2015. The 419th OG, detachment 1 is a contingent of Reserve F-35 pilots who fly in partnership with the 34th FS.