The US Air Force conducted an incredible show of force in response to Iranian sabre-rattling, launching fifty-two F-35As from Hill Air Force Base in Utah.
The number of aircraft -which are from active-duty and reserve components- was symbolic of the number of American hostages held in 1979 and the number of Iranian targets President Donald Trump promised to hit if Iran attempted to retaliate in the aftermath of the killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.
The exercise was carried out by the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings, and showed just how many of the armed flying data suites could be brought to bear if need be.
“A little more than four years after receiving their first combat-coded F-35A Lightning II aircraft, Hill’s fighter wings have achieved full warfighting capability,” said the 388th Fighter Wing in a statement.
According to the Daily Mail, each F-35A fighter is worth about $89.2 million.
“’Every training opportunity, exercise and deployment we’ve completed over the past four years has been a key stepping stone in reaching full warfighting capability,” the 388th said. “This is just the beginning of sustained F-35A combat operations and we will remain focused on staying ready to deploy whenever, wherever we’re needed.”
Last year, the USAF’s F-35 was deployed to the Middle East for the first time, sharing an airspace with the Israeli F-35s that had (obviously) been there for some time.
The conventional takeoff and landing variant of the F-35, the “A” model has proven to be rather successful, while the “C” model designed for the Navy has suffered from setbacks and teething issues.
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