The U.S. Air Force conducted the first combat employment of the F-35A Lightning II aircraft as part of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. The service said Tuesday that two of the fighter jets from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, performed an airstrike targeting a tunnel network and weapons cache controlled by the Islamic State group in the Hamrin Mountains. For the mission, the Air Force equipped the F-35As with a Joint Direct Attack Munition to support the airstrike.
“That, combined with low-observable technology, allows us to really complement any combined force package and be ready to support AOR contingencies,” said Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, an F-35A pilot and 4th Fighter Squadron commander. “This jet is smarter, a lot smarter, and so it can do more, and it helps you out more when loading munitions,” said Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons technician.
He added the aircraft carried sensors and advanced radar that helped collect information during the mission in real time. The F-35A can share the information gathered in the field with other F-35 variants, including fourth generation aircraft.