USAF’s F-35A aircraft conduct first air strike in Iraq

1 May 2019 (Last Updated May 1st, 2019 14:53)

The US Air Force (USAF) has used the F-35A Lightning II aircraft for the first time to conduct an air strike targeting the terrorist organisation Islamic State’s (IS) assets at Wadi Ashai, Iraq.

USAF’s F-35A aircraft conduct first air strike in Iraq
A F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxis down the flightline before taking off from Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE. Credit: USAF / Staff Sgt Chris Drzazgowski.

The US Air Force (USAF) has used the F-35A Lightning II aircraft for the first time to conduct an air strike targeting the terrorist organisation Islamic State’s (IS) assets at Wadi Ashai, Iraq.

Two F-35A conventional take-off and landing fighter jets performed the strike in support of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR).

The F-35As used a Joint Direct Attack Munition to conduct the air strike to take out an entrenched Daesh tunnel network and weapons cache deep in the Hamrin Mountains.

According to the US Central Command, the strikes carried out by CJTF-OIR in support of Iraqi Security Forces against IS targets disrupted the terrorist outfit’s ability to regroup and reorganise.

IS has been trying to mobilise munitions, equipment, and personnel into Iraq in a bid to facilitate its resurgence in the region.

4th Fighter Squadron commander and F-35A pilot lieutenant colonel Yosef Morris said: “We have the ability to gather, fuse and pass so much information that we make every friendly aircraft more survivable and lethal.

“The F-35A has sensors everywhere, it has advanced radar and it is gathering and fusing all this information from the battlespace in real time.”

“That, combined with low-observable technology, allows us to really complement any combined force package and be ready to support AOR contingencies.”

The F-35A aircraft were recently deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, US, to Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE and joined the Combined Forces Air Component team in the CENTCOM area of operations (AOR) last month.

This marks the aircraft’s third deployment over the course of the programme and first to the CENTCOM AOR. F-35A was previously deployed to Europe and Asia.

Last year, Israel Defense Forces’ F-35As and US Marine Corps’ F-35Bs took part in combat operations.

The F-35A has the ability to enhance other battlefield assets and helps maintain air superiority and deliver ‘war-winning airpower’.

Morris added: “The F-35A has sensors everywhere, it has advanced radar and it is gathering and fusing all this information from the battlespace in real time.

“Now it has the ability to take that information and share it with other F-35s or even other fourth generation aircraft in the same package that can also see the integrated picture.”