F 35 "Elephant walk" [Fighter jet launching exercise]

What was the purpose of this exercise? Does that sort of launch have any practical application? While I can see there would be considerable logistics involved, isn’t it really just line 'em up and launch 'em as fast as you can? It might look impressive but when would that many front line fighters ever be in the same place at the same time AND need to take off in rapid succession?

And how much prep time was needed to make that happen? If you count all of the prep time instead of just the time spent on runways, does the rate still look as impressive?

According to this article:

It’s probably 30+ more 5th-gen fighter jets than any other country in the world can get into the air at one time. That’s impressive in ways.

I think that’s pretty important – a warplane is only useful when it’s flying.
As I understand it, the US won the battle of Midway because Japan was unable to get their planes launched off their carriers in the appropriate timeframe. (Partly due to indecision on the part of the commander.)

What is the purpose of soldiers matching close order drill on a parade ground? You are not going to defeat anyone in a war doing that, but over the last several hundred years, successful armies did a lot of practice marching. The purpose is:

  • Getting people used to working as a team.
  • Getting people used to waiting for and following orders.
  • Getting officers/sargents used to seeing the results of their orders, and the importance in being clear when giving orders, and understanding all the possible ways orders can be miss-understood.
  • It used to take 13 people to get a jet plane in the air, I’m guessing it is more than that now. These exercise show you the weak points in your system. (Which planes were late getting off the ground? Why? How can we do this better the next time?)
  • Getting people used to figuring out how to fix things that go wrong, on the fly.
  • The official name for this drill is not “elephant walk” but “Short Notice Combat Readiness Drill.” So theoretically this massive launch had significant notice, but the idea being getting used to launching an smaller number on planes right now.

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General Questions Moderator

The story is told that when Eisenhower was sworn in as President, an Air Force general bragged to him that they could get 200 bombers in the air on 20 minutes notice. He looked at his watch and said “OK, go”.

So what’s the rest of the story? Did they do it or not?

The story indicates that one of the goals of this exercise is to get pilots and support personnel from multiple units to coordinate with one another to make it happen. So it tests if procedures are uniform, etc.
And I guess they also get to test if their super-helmets still work when they’re close to each other like that. Wouldn’t want your Bluetooth to re-pair to the adjacent plane, now, would you?