HILL AIR FORCE BASE — For at least the second time in their four-year history at Hill Air Force Base, F-35s from the 388th and 419th fighter wings have conducted combat strikes on enemy forces.
Earlier this week, F-35s from Hill were part of a group that dropped about 80,000 pounds of bombs on Qanus Island in Iraq — a spot that has been used as a hideout by the Islamic State.
Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Col. Myles B. Caggins III reported the strike in a Twitter post, noting that a group of Air Force F-15s also participated in the mission. Caggins’ post also included a video of the bombing.
Personnel from Hill are currently stationed at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the Middle East, part of the Combined Joint Task Force’s OIR mission.
The collection includes pilots from the active duty 4th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, as well as active duty and reserve airmen in the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, as well as personnel in other support functions. The group arrived at Al Dhafra in mid-April, but the Air Force has not disclosed when they are scheduled to return home.
In April, F-35s from Hill conducted an air strike at Wadi Ashai, Iraq, hitting a long-established ISIS tunnel network and weapons cache in a remote area of the Hamrin Mountains. At the time, Air Force officials from Hill said the strike marked the jet’s first real-world combat mission.
Hill was selected as the Air Force’s preferred home for the F-35 in December 2013 after a four-year environmental review process. Since the initial delivery of two jets in late 2015, the base has been accepting one to two aircraft each month. Once the full fleet of 78 Lightning IIs is complete, expected sometime before the end of this year, the planes will be divided among three fighter squadrons.
Since their Utah arrival, Hill F-35s and associated crew members have deployed several times, being stationed in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Pilots from Hill have also conducted numerous other training missions, including flying in and out of the Utah Test and Training Range in Utah’s west desert.