USAF sends F-35A fighter aircraft for first deployment to Middle East

16 April 2019 (Last Updated April 16th, 2019 10:08)

The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft to the Middle East for the first time.

USAF sends F-35A fighter aircraft for first deployment to Middle East
Three F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxi after landing at Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE. Credit: USAF / Staff Sgt Chris Thornbury.

The US Air Force (USAF) has deployed F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft to the Middle East for the first time.

The fifth-generation multi-role aircraft belong to active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, US.

Fighter jets are assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and arrived at the Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE.

This is the first deployment of the F-35A aircraft to the US Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility.

US Air Forces Central Command commander lieutenant general Joseph Guastella said: “We are adding a cutting edge weapons system to our arsenal that significantly enhances the capability of the coalition.

“The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theatre and deter aggressors.”

The deployment will help improve the interoperability of the USAF throughout the region.

“When it comes to having a ‘quarterback’ for the coalition joint force, the inter-operable F-35A is clearly the aircraft for the leadership role.”

During the stint, USAF crew will demonstrate the full range of the F-35A’s capabilities.

The F-35 fighter aircraft is available in three variants. The F-35A is the conventional take-off and landing variant.

The combination of advanced stealth capabilities and advanced weapons technology enables the F-35A to provide increased operational capability.

Built by Lockheed Martin, the aircraft is intended to fuse, integrate and share data with other battlefield assets. It is equipped with powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor packages.

Furthermore, the fighter helps maintain air superiority with improved lethality, survivability and adaptability against emerging threats.

USAF Air Force chief of staff general David Goldfein said: “The F-35A provides our nation air dominance in any threat. When it comes to having a ‘quarterback’ for the coalition joint force, the inter-operable F-35A is clearly the aircraft for the leadership role.”

The service previously sent the F-35A to Royal Air Force Lakenheath in April 2017, and the US Pacific Command area of responsibility in the fall of 2017.