F-35A Lightning II declared combat ready by Air Force
JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia. – U.S. Air Force officials during a ceremony announced that the The F-35A Lightning II fifth generation fighter aircraft is now combat ready.
“I am proud to announce this powerful new weapons system has achieved initial combat capability,” said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, the commander of U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command. “The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory, because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield.”
Carlisle said the aircraft aircraft has now met all essential criteria for reaching initial operational capability: manned and equipped to conduct basic close air support, Airmen trained, interdiction, and limited suppression/destruction of enemy air defenses in a contested environment with an operational squadron of 12-24 aircraft; the capability to deploy and perform operational missions utilizing program of record weapons and missions systems; and having all essential logistics and operational elements in place.
PHOTO CAPTION: F-35A Lightning II aircraft receive fuel from a KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., during a flight from England to the United States. The fighters were returning to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., after participating in the world's largest air show, the Royal International Air Tattoo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Madelyn Brown)
The F-35A enables air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses and close air support. It also as has command and control functions via fused sensors and will provide pilots with enhanced situational awareness of the battlespace greater than any single-seat platform in existence today, according to the Air Force.
The 34th Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, is the service’s first operational F-35A squadron, having met all the established criteria for Initial Operational Capability including a successful June deployment to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and a series of eight-aircraft sorties held in mid-July. Thirty-four FS Airmen will fly and maintain the F-35A alongside Air Force Reservists from Hill’s 419th Fighter Wing.