The United States has sent a squadron equipped with F-35 fighters on a combat deployment to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings here deployed F-35A Lighting IIs into combat. The 34th Fighter Squadron departed Hill last week for Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE, to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the Middle East. The aircraft recently arrived in country,” the USAF said in a statement.
The 388th and 419th are the Air Force first combat-capable F-35A units.
The 4th Fighter Squadron returned to Hill AFB two weeks ago from a 6-month deployment to Al Dhafra. It was the Air Force’s first F-35A combat deployment in the Middle East.
“By the end of this year, Hill AFB will be home to 78 F-35s,” the Air Force added.
Interestingly, the Lockheed F-35 fighter jet made its first public appearance at an event in the Middle East in the recently concluded Dubai Airshow, held in the UAE. Speculations of a possible sale of the F-35 jets in the wealthy, gulf nations were put to rest after the US issued a statement that said otherwise.
On October 24, USAF’s F-15Es arrived at the UAE airbase. “The jets join the diverse mix of aircraft at ADAB to include additional F-15E’s as well as F-35A Lightning IIs, KC-10 Extenders, E-3 Sentrys, and RQ-4 Global Hawks to support ongoing operations in the region,” the USAF had stated.