F-35s Practice Adaptive Basing in the Middle East

An F-35A assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron breaks away after receiving fuel from a KC-10 Extender assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during Exercise Agile Lightning on Aug. 6, 2019. Air Force photo by SSgt. Chris Thornbury.

F-35As stationed in the Middle East practiced how they can participate in combat operations from a temporary base by deploying from the United Arab Emirates to another, undisclosed location, the service said Aug. 12.

An undisclosed number of Joint Strike Fighters deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing and operated out of an austere area with a skeleton crew of support airmen as part of an adaptive basing exercise called “Agile Lightning” from Aug 4-7.

Airmen and support equipment piled into a C-17 to stand up operations for the stealth fighter, and once established at the base, they flew “essential missions” to protect US assets in the region, according to an Air Forces Central Command release.

The aircraft and airmen are from the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, deployed to AFCENT from Hill AFB, Utah.

“By executing the adaptive basing concepts we have only practiced at home until now, we increased the readiness, survivability, and lethality of the F-35A in a combat theater,” 4th EFS Commander Lt. Col. Joshua Arki said. “The Agile Lightning team worked hard to coordinate with multiple bases and across US Air Force core disciplines, such as logistics, munitions, force support, communications, air mobility, Combined Air Operations Center staff, etc.”