US Air Force launches 52 fighter jets in Utah training exercise


In a show of military might, the US Air Force conducted a massive “elephant walk” exercise involving the launch of 52 F-35A Lightning II fighter jets in Utah, officials said.

The state-of-the-art jets took off from the Hill Air Force Base over a 10-minute period Monday morning in a combat exercise conducted by the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings.

“Today’s exercise marks the accomplishment of over four years of work — a little over four years ago, we received our first F-35,” Col. Michael Ebner, the 388th vice commander, told the Deseret News.

“We now have our full complement of aircraft and locally, we turn this into a goal of full war-fighting capability,” he added.

An “elephant walk” refers to the close formation of military planes before takeoff.

While the effort was meant to demonstrate the ability to conduct a large-scale combat deployment, it was not in direct response to the escalating situation with Iran after the drone-strike death of top general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, Ebner said.

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