U.S. Air Force F-35A Sees First Combat Action

 - May 1, 2019, 9:53 AM
Two F-35As refuel from a KC-10A Extender during the mission over Iraq on April 30, in the course of which targets were attacked for the first time. The aircraft are equipped with external pylons for AIM-9X air-to-air missiles, with JDAM bombs carried internally. (Photo: U.S. Central Command)

Two F-35As from Hill AFB, Utah have flown the first combat missions by the type in U.S. Air Force hands, following the recent arrival of the type in the UAE to support Operation Inherent Resolve. On April 30 the two aircraft conducted an air strike at Wadi Ashai in Iraq. GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) weapons were released against an “entrenched Daesh tunnel network and weapons cache deep in the Hamrin Mountains,” according to the U.S. Central Command.

The aircraft are assigned to the 4th Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing, and the deployment also incorporates personnel from the 388th’s Air Force Reserve partner unit, the 419th FW. The detachment to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing at Al Dhafra is the third for the F-35A and the first to the Central Command area of responsibility (AOR).

“We have been successful in two Red Flag exercises and we’ve deployed to Europe and Asia,” said Lieutenant Colonel Yosef Morris, 4th FS commander. “Our airmen are ready and we’re excited to be here. We have the ability to gather, fuse, and pass so much information that we make every friendly aircraft more survivable and lethal. That, combined with low-observable technology, allows us to really complement any combined-force package and be ready to support AOR contingencies.”