The first squadron of new F-35 fighter jets was announced ready for battle by the US Air Force on Tuesday.
The jets are now functional 15 years after defence and security technology developer Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop the jet. This news will allow the first functional F-35 fighter squad from the 34th Fighter Squadron located at Hill Air Force Base, Utah to engage in combat operations. Air Combat Command General Herbert Carlisle has stated that the jets are not likely to engage in combat operations until 2017 but did state that if asked by a combatant commander to deploy them, “I’d send them down in a heartbeat because they’re very, very good.”
“Given the national security strategy, we need it,” said General Carlisle, “You look at the potential adversaries out there, or the potential environments where we have to operate this airplane, the attributes that the F-35 brings — the ability to penetrate defensive airspace, the ability to deliver precision munitions with a sensor suite that fuses data from multiple information sources — is something our nation needs.”
Although the jets are fully functional and combat ready, they must go through a series of phases. The planes will first be sent through Red Flag exercises then though a “theater security package” in Europe and Asia.
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