The Elephant Walk was carried out during JBLE Total Force Phase 1 exercise.
On Feb. 28, 2019, F-22 Raptors from the 1st Fighter Wing and 192nd Fighter Wing, took part in a total force exercise at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.
Both wings partnered with 633rd Air Base Wing during the Phase 1 exercise to showcase their readiness and deployability of the F-22 5th generation stealth jets. Interestingly, as part of the JBLE Total Force exercise, the Raptors also staged an “Elephant Walk”.
Divided into two waves for a total 24 Raptors, the Langley’s Elephant Walk is newsworthy as this kind of drills is not frequent for the U.S. Air Force’s premiere fighter. Actually, a quick search online did not return any photo of previous “walks” conducted by Raptors but this does not mean some squadron has not carried out a similar exercise in the past.
Increasingly, “Elephant walk” exercises are conducted at airbases all around the world to test the squadrons ability to launch large formations of aircraft at short notice.
As explained quite regularly here at The Aviationist, during this kind of drills, combat planes (including tankers) taxi in close formation in the same way they would do in case of a minimum interval takeoff; still, depending on the purpose of the training event, the aircraft can either take off or return back to their parking slots.
“Elephant Walks” have always been particularly frequent in South Korea where local-based U.S. Air Force jets (often alongside Republic of Korea Air Force planes) often stage such “collective shows of force” in response to North Korea’s aggressive posture and threats: tens of U.S. F-16s, A-10s and South Korea’s ROKAF KF-16s regularly taxi down the runway at Kunsan or Osan airbases, in collective “shows of force” whose primary aim is to test squadrons’ readiness to war time operations. However, similar exercises are also conducted at airbases in Continental U.S. as happened, for instance, in April 2012, when nearly 70 F-15E Strike Eagles took part to one of the largest Elephant Walk to date at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.; in November 2018, 35 F-35 Lightning II aircraft from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wing took part in an Elephant Walk at Hill AFB, Utah.