NEW YORK POST:
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 we launched about 50 F-35s in rapid succession. Part of a long-planned combat power exercise with @388fw, we pushed the boundaries and tested our Airmen’s ability to deploy @thef35 en masse. We’re ready to fly, fight, and win. @usairforce @USAFReserve @USAF_ACC pic.twitter.com/QskjR6lsch— 419th Fighter Wing (@419fw) January 6, 2020
“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.