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Hill F-35s on ‘Combat Hammer’

Photo: An F-35A drops a 2,000-pound GBU-31 over the Utah Test and Training Range on August 10. during 'Combat Hammer'. USAF/Scott Wolff

 

The 388th and 419th Fighter Wings from Hill AFB, Utah, have flown their F-35As during ‘Combat Hammer’, the first operational air-to-ground weapons evaluation for the type.

‘Combat Hammer’ is one phase of the Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) and it tests and validates the performance of crews, pilots, and their technology while deploying air-to-ground precision-guided munitions.

The weeklong evaluation exercise concluded August 11 and Lt Col Timothy Smith, commander of the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron detachment at Hill AFB that oversees ‘Combat Hammer’, said he received positive feedback regarding above-average mission and sortie rates. ‘Overall, everything went as planned and all participating units performed very well, including the 34th Fighter Squadron F-35s.’

Col Dave Abba commands the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida, which is the operational test wing for the USAF. The 53rd Wing develops, tests, evaluates, and delivers effective and sustainable combat capabilities to perfect lethality and survivability of our nation’s combat forces. Teams from the 53rd Wing, parent command of the 86th FWS, have been integral in the operational testing and evaluation of the F-35A that supported last year’s Initial Operational Capability declaration and now continue marching toward Full Operational Capability (FOC) for the F-35A.

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