The F-35A Lightning II fifth generation fighter
aircraft has been declared ‘combat ready’ by Gen. Hawk Carlisle,
the commander of Air Combat Command.
Carlisle lauded the aircraft’s performance,
noting that the aircraft had met all key criteria for reaching
initial operational capability (IOC): Airmen trained, manned and
equipped to conduct basic close air support, interdiction, and
limited suppression/destruction of enemy air defenses in a
contested environment with an operational squadron of 12-24
aircraft; the ability to deploy and conduct operational missions
using program of record weapons and missions systems; and having
all necessary logistics and operational elements in place.
“I am proud to announce this powerful new
weapons system has achieved initial combat capability,” Carlisle
said. “The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our
inventory, because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and
provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern
The F-35A is the latest addition to
ACC’s fleet of deployable and fifth generation aircraft. It
provides air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air
defenses and close air support as well as great command and
control functions through fused sensors, and will provide pilots
with unprecedented situational awareness of the battlespace that
will be more extensive than any single-seat platform in existence.
“Bringing the F-35A to initial combat readiness is a
testament to our phenomenal Airmen and the outstanding support of
the Joint Program Office and our enterprise partners. This
important milestone for our fighter force ensures the United
States, along with our allies and international partners, remains
prepared to deter, deny, and defeat the full spectrum of growing
threats around the globe,” added Deborah Lee James, Secretary of
the Air Force.
Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing, based at Hill Air
Force Base, Utah, is the service’s first operational F-35A squadron, having met all the established criteria for Initial
Operational Capability including a successful June deployment to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and a series of eight-aircraft sorties
held in mid-July.
34 FS Airmen will fly and maintain the F-35A alongside Air Force Reservists from Hill’s 419th Fighter Wing.
“Our Airmen have worked tirelessly to make sure our
aircraft are combat ready: meeting challenges head-on and
completing all the required milestones,” said Col. David Lyons,
388th Fighter Wing commander. “We're very proud that the Air Force
has declared us combat ready and we're prepared to take this
aircraft wherever it's needed in support of our national
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