HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Hill’s fighter wings have reached full warfighting capability, known as FWC, for the F-35A.
The new designation occurred after a culmination of several events: receipt of the 78th and final F-35A aircraft in the fleet, amassing the full complement of necessary support equipment, and reaching a cadre of fully trained pilots and maintainers here.
The active duty 388th and Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wings had previously been designated as combat capable after the Air Force declared initial operational capability in August 2016. The first F-35A aircraft arrived at Hill in late 2015. Hill’s fighter wings are currently the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35A units.
“Since the first aircraft arrival, we’ve accomplished an impressive laundry list of milestones in just over four short years,” said Chief Master Sgt. Eric Engel, 466th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. “A lot of hard work and dedication have gone on here behind the scenes to get us where we are today.”
In the past four years, the wings have participated in several large combat exercises, deployed twice to Europe and once to the Pacific and supported two Middle East combat deployments, including one short-notice tasking.
“In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’ve now achieved FWC because the time has gone by so fast,” he said. “I’m really proud of the transition we’ve gone through. When we started out, most of our folks were longtime F-16 maintainers and it’s been truly impressive to see their aptitude and quick transition to a fifth-gen aircraft that is so vastly different from the F-16 in its computer based advancements.”
Earlier this week, the fighter wings held their second F-35A combat power exercise, launching 52 aircraft en masse to test Airmen’s ability to deploy quickly. One of Hill’s F-35A squadrons is currently deployed.
For more on the FWC designation, read the full story.