HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The Air Force's F-35 demonstration team, which is now stationed at Hill Air Force Base, is set to perform at this year's Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show.
And next month, the team will begin practicing in the skies above Northern Utah, so don't be alarmed if you soon see a few Lightning IIs doing some out-of-the-ordinary aerial acrobatics.
The Air Force announced the team's 20-performance schedule Tuesday, during the International Council of Air Shows annual conference in Las Vegas. Right now, the Hill-based team is scheduled to fly at 20 shows next year, running March through November.
Previously located at Luke AFB, Ariz., the F-35A demo team now operates as part of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill. The base was selected as home for the Department of Defense’s first combat F-35 unit in 2013 and began accepting combat-ready jets in 2015. The two fighter wings will have a full complement of 78 jets before the year is out. F-35s at Hill have deployed on numerous combat missions since their arrival in Utah.
"We’ve flown this jet in combat, we just welcomed back our first operational deployment, and sent a second squadron overseas," said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander. "Operating the Air Force’s most advanced fighter jet is our mission, and we are extremely excited to be able to showcase the capabilities of our airmen and this aircraft to the world."
Capt. Kip Sumner said the team is currently training for the show season, designing and preparing new launch and recovery procedures for the demonstration routine. The approximately 18-minute routine will highlight the F-35A’s numerous capabilities, including it's speed, agility and high-g turning.
Sumner said local flying practice is expected to begin around Hill in early January, with specific dates being announced later.
The team will perform at the biennial Hill Air Show on June 27 and 28. The two-day event regularly draws more than 500,000 spectators.