The U.S. Air Force (USAF) F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter jets are scheduled for first operational deployment to Indo-Asia-Pacific region in early November, the service announced.
According to the statement from Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), twelve F-35As, along with approximately 300 Airmen, from Hill Air Force Base, Utah’s 34th Fighter Squadron will be deployed to to Kadena Air Base, Japan for a six month rotation.
This also marks U.S. Pacific Command’s first operational tasking for the F-35A and builds upon the USAF fifth-generation stealth fighter’s successful debut in the Indo-Asia-Pacific at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition (ADEX) earlier this month.
“The F-35A gives the joint warfighter unprecedented global precision attack capability against current and emerging threats while complementing our air superiority fleet,” said Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander. “The airframe is ideally suited to meet our command’s obligations, and we look forward to integrating it into our training and operations.”
The F-35A is being deployed under U.S. PACOM’s theater security package (TSP) program, which has been in operation since 2004. This long-planned deployment is designed to demonstrate the continuing U.S. commitment to stability and security in the region.
While a first in-theater for the F-35A, the U.S. Marine Corps F-35B variant has been stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan since January, 2017.
The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in October 2015. Hill currently has 27 F-35As and will eventually be home to 78 aircraft and three operational squadrons by the end of 2019. The active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the aircraft in a total force partnership.
About Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II:
Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather, fifth-generation stealth multirole fighters designed and developed by Lockheed Martin to perform ground attack and air defense missions.
The fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, advanced mission systems, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and cutting-edge sustainment.
It has three main models: the F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) variant, and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant.
The three distinct variants will replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon and A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 Hornet for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV-8B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for 11 other countries.
On 31 July 2015, the United States Marines declared ready for deployment the first squadron of F-35B fighters after intensive testing. On 2 August 2016, the U.S. Air Force declared its first squadron of F-35A fighters combat-ready. The Initial Operational Capability (IOC) declaration of Navy fighters are expected in 2019.
More than 240 F-35s have been built and delivered worldwide, and they have collectively flown more than 105,000 flight hours.
Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)