The US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Lighting II jets have been deployed recently from Hill Air Force Base (AFB) in Utah, US, to Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE, for combat.

The 421st Fighter Squadron departed Hill AFB for Al Dhafra Air Base to support the UASF Central Command mission in the region.

This is the third time in around 12 months that airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB deployed F-35A Lighting IIs into combat.

USAF 388th Fighter Wing commander Colonel Steven Behmer said: “The 421st Fighter Squadron completed their stand up in December and now they’re our latest squadron heading into the fight.

“This demonstrates the readiness of our airmen, our weapons system, and the importance of both the airforce and our national defence mission.”

The squadron recently deployed to the Middle Eastern country includes pilots and maintainers from the 421st and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadrons. It also includes aircraft maintenance units and other support personnel.

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Around three weeks ago, an initial contingent of active and reserve airmen deployed with the 34th Fighter Squadron returned to Hill AFB after completing a six-month deployment to the Middle East.

A large group from the 34th FS deployed to the Middle East are expected to return to the US soon.

During the mission, the 34th FS squadron carried out close air support, offensive and defensive counter-air and maritime escort.

This squadron participated in multinational exercises and operated from two different bases for more than three months. The 421st Fighter Squadron is expected to assume a similar role.

The F-35A offers operational capability by combining advanced stealth capabilities with the latest weapons technology.

In October 2015, the first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB, which is now home to 78 F-35s.

In a total force partnership, the active-duty 388th FW and USAF Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the jets.