autoevolution
Car video reviews:
 

When the Lightning and Falcons of the 354th FW Come Out to Play, the World Should Tremble

There are probably few sights more impressive than that of an army of fighter aircraft lined up on a runway somewhere, ready to take off and wreak havoc. Specialists and enthusiasts call these gatherings elephant walks, but we must say, they’re much more impressive than that.
354th Fighter Wing planes on an elephant walk 20 photos
354th Fighter Wing planes on an elephant walk354th Fighter Wing planes on an elephant walk354th Fighter Wing planes on an elephant walk42 F-35A Lightning IIs on massive elephant walkF-35 Lightning II on hot pit refueling in JapanF-35A Lightning IIs over the UKF-35A Lightning IIs on an elephant walkF-35A Lightning II with the 495th Fighter SquadronF-35A Lightning II at Thunder and Lightning Over ArizonaF-35A Lightning II on vertical ascentF-35 Lightning buzzing the CN TowerF-35A Lighting IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 LightningF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 Lightning cruising subsonic into the sunset
The 354th Fighter Wing, the host wing of the Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska, is used to such displays of power. It routinely trains to “rapidly mobilize and launch aircraft from its strategic arctic location,” taking out on the runway, at the same time, its fleet of F-35A Lightning IIs and F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The last time it did so was back in May, during such a routine readiness exercise. As usual, and as clearly shown in the images from the drill the U.S. Air Force (USAF) recently released, the sight was impressive.

An impossible-to-count number of fourth- and fifth-generation fighter aircraft are lined up on the runaway of the Alaska base, all suited and geared up as if war was imminent. Of the two breeds of aircraft though, one clearly stands out more than the other, including in terms of numbers: the F-35.

The 354th Fighter Wing fields one of the largest F-35 fleets. A total of 54 such beasts are deployed in its pilots’ hands, with the latest units entering service earlier this year. Pilots get to play with them above the world’s largest training range, the 67,000 square miles (174,000 square km) Joint Pacific Alaskan Range Complex (JPARC).

“Our location is a big asset,” said Col. David Berkland, 354th FW commander back when the readiness exercise was held.

“We’re able to provide world-class training because of our proximity to the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, and we can support the projection of all kinds of aircraft, including our permanently-stationed F-35s and other strategic airpower, all over the world. We are ready to answer the call.”


Editor's note: Gallery also show various other F-35s.

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories