Here are a couple of interesting clips showing what happened after the “Elephant Walk” of 35 F-35s that made the news a couple of days ago.
35x F-35A from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing staged the type’s first “Elephant Walk” at Hill Air Force Base on Nov. 19, 2018.
As already reported, such “Elephant Walk” exercises consist in a certain number of aircraft (not only attack or fighter jets, but also cargo or tankers) that taxi in close formation or in sequence right before a minimum interval takeoff and, depending on the purpose of the training event they then either take off or taxi back to the apron. During the first ever F-35 Elephant Walk stage at Hill AFB, Utah, the aircraft eventually took off, as the following videos show.
Here’s an interesting clip showing both the takeoff and the landings and taxi of the aircraft:
Here’s another one, showing the return of the largest F-35 formation ever over Hill AFB: quite an impressive sight.
As usual, the Elephant Walk sparked some debate: there is someone who believe that surging 35 aircraft was nothing more than a “PR stunt”; others who believe the exercise was a show of force that prove the growing maturity of the weapons system. Most probably, the truth lies somewhere in the middle: there may have been some FMC (Full Mission Capable) aircraft along with some PMCM (Partial Mission Capable for Maintenance) and PMCS (Partial Mission Capable for Supply). The latter are subcategories of the PMC (Partial Mission Capable) condition when an aircraft can perform at least one, but not all of its intended missions.
Whatever the actual numbers are, the fact that 35 jets were launched together is a sign of progress in the right direction, and more than some (many) other air forces can do with 5th (or just 4th) Gen. aircraft.