Military Aviation

First Middle East deployment for USAF F-35A Lightning II

On Apr. 15, 2019 the U.S. Air Force’s fifth generation multi-role aircraft arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

On Apr. 15, 2019 the U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II fifth generation multi-role aircraft arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, for its first deployment to the Middle East. The F-35As are from active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah.

As explained by  Maj. Holly Brauer, U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs, in the article Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II arrives for first Middle East deployment, as the first deployment to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, crews are prepared and trained for the AFCENT mission. The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, provides greater operational capability by combining advanced stealth capabilities with the latest weapons technology.

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“We are adding a cutting edge weapons system to our arsenal that significantly enhances the capability of the coalition,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph T. Guastella, U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander. “The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theater and deter aggressors.”

The F-35A is designed with the entire battlespace in mind, and is intended to fuse, integrate and share data with other battlefield assets. It has one of the most powerful and comprehensive integrated sensor packages. It improves lethality, survivability and adaptability against emerging threats in order to maintain air superiority.

“The F-35A provides our nation air dominance in any threat,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “When it comes to having a ‘quarterback’ for the coalition joint force, the inter-operable F-35A is clearly the aircraft for the leadership role,” he stated.

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The F-35A has previously deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath in April 2017, as well as the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility in the fall of 2017.

“We look forward to demonstrating the full range of the F-35A’s capabilities while it increases the interoperability of our forces throughout the region,” said Guastella.

An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxis down the runway at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Apr. 15, 2019.

Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury and Senior Airman Mya M. Crosby / U.S. Air Force

Artwork courtesy of

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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