Airmen from Hill AFB, Utah, recently completed their first six-month combat deployment with the F-35.
On Nov. 1, airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings returned home to Hill after moving to Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates. Joint Strike Fighters and airmen deployed in April for close air support missions to counter the Islamic State group as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, along with “regional deterrence against aggressors,” according to a Nov. 4 Hill release.
The jets also participated in multinational exercises, such as when they flew alongside United Kingdom Royal Air Force and Israeli F-35s in Exercise Tri-Lightning.
showed that we deserved a seat at the table just like any other
fighter,” Lt. Col. Joshua Arki, 4th Fighter Squadron commander, said in
the release. “We demonstrated to our friends and enemies that the F-35A
is ready for any of the missions we may be called upon. We can hold any
conflict in any theater at bay.”
deployment was a combined team of pilots from both the Active-Duty 4th
FS and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, along with airmen from the 4th
and 466th Aircraft Maintenance Units.
participation “significantly enhances the capability of the coalition,”
Air Forces Central Command boss Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella said in
April, adding that the F-35’s advanced technology “will enhance security
and stability across the theater.”
deployment marked the second time F-35s went into combat, following a
Marine Corps F-35B visit to US Central Command in 2018.
Neither the Air Force or CENTCOM have announced a new deployment of fifth-generation aircraft or aircrews to the region. F-15Es from RAF Lakenheath, England, deployed to Al Dhafra in mid-October.