04/25/2014: F-16 pilots with the 419th and 388th Fighter Wings from Hill Air Force Base, Utah conducted air-to-air combat training alongside the F-35 Lightning II at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
This is the first time Hill F-16 pilots have trained along side the fifth generation F-35.
Hill AFB was selected as one of the first operational locations for the F-35, which will arrive in late 2015.
Credit:419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs:4/24/14
According to an article by Mitch Shaw of the Standard-Examiner published on April 24, 2014:
The first operational F-35 won’t arrive at Hill Air Force Base until late next year, but on Thursday, pilots from the base’s 419th and 388th Fighter Wings got a head start on training.
A group of F-16 pilots and maintainers from the two fighter wings left for Eglin Air Force Base in Florida late last week to get a sneak preview of the F-35A Lightning II, the Air Force’s newest fighter aircraft. Wednesday, Hill pilots flew air-to-air combat training missions with F-35s that are currently assigned to Eglin’s 33rd Fighter Wing.
In December 2013, Hill was named the Air Force’s first operational basing location for the F-35A, the Air Force version of the jet. Hill’s two fighter wings will fly and maintain the same aircraft in what is known in the Air Force as a “Total Force Integration” partnership. Before TFI was implemented, the two wings maintained and flew their own, separate aircraft…..
Lt. Col. David Castaneda, commander of the 419th sub-unit 466th Fighter Squadron, said the mission allowed Hill personnel to train for the eventual integration of the Air Force’s fourth and fifth generation fighters (the F-16 and the F-35, respectively) and provided insight into the future of fighter operations of the F-35 at Hill.
“This was a great opportunity for our F-16s to operate with the F-35,” Castaneda said.