What’s that in the sky? Hill Air Force night-flying operations

Dec 8, 2021, 3:01 PM
Lightning fighter jet in action night-flying...
Fighter wings will be flying F-35A Lightning II units during the weeknights until Dec. 21, 2021. Photo: Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK, CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah —  During most weekdays until Dec. 21, Hill Air Force fighter wings will conduct local night-flying operations.

Just in case Utahns notice strange activity in the sky during the week this December, the active-duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings want to inform the public they will be flying planes in the night. 

Local night-flying operations

The 388th Fighter Wings reported night-flying should conclude by 10 p.m. each night. However, a variety of factors such a weather and air apace availability could shift the fighter wings’ flying window later. 

Fighter wings will be flying F-35A Lightning II’s. According to the 388th Fighter Wing statement on the upcoming night-flying operations; “The 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings are the Air Force’s first combat-capable F-35A units.” 

The F-35A Lightning II

In the last seven years, the United States Air Force replaced their F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs with the F-35A Lighting II. The Air Force explained the F-35A has improved aerodynamic performance and stealth, enhanced situational awareness, and reduced vulnerability for those flying. 

In 2015, Hill AFB both received two F-35A units and flew the first-ever combat-coded F-35A unit as part of the 34th Fighter Squadron. Hill AFB is one of only 10 Air Force bases with F-35A Lightning II units. 

Why fly at night?

The 388th Fighter Wing public affairs person, Micah Garbarino, explained why it is crucial fighter wings fly at night. By training in the dark, Hill AFB’s fighter wings improve their readiness for combat in difficult and varied weather conditions.

Over the last two years, all three of the wings’ fighter squadrons have been deployed to the Middle East, Garbarino continued. The night-flying operations through Dec. 21 serve as a means to keep Hill’s squadrons ready for potential deployment.

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What’s that in the sky? Hill Air Force night-flying operations