For third time in a year, Hill F-35As deploy to Middle East

For third time in a year, Hill F-35As deploy to Middle East

By Dario Leone
Jun 6 2020
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Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings deployed F-35A Lighting IIs into combat for the third time in approximately 12 months.

Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings deployed F-35A Lighting IIs into combat for the third time in approximately 12 months.

The 421st Fighter Squadron departed Hill AFB recently for Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the region. 

“The 421st Fighter Squadron completed their stand up in December and now they’re our latest squadron heading into the fight,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander to Micah Garbarino, 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, for the article For third time, Hill AFB fighter wings deploy F-35As to Middle East. “This demonstrates the readiness of our Airmen, our weapons system, and the importance of both to the Air Force and our national defense mission. On top of that, add in prepping and training in this challenging coronavirus environment. As leaders, we couldn’t be more proud of our Airmen.”  

Maintainers and personnel in other support functions from the active duty 421st and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadrons and Aircraft Maintenance Units form the deployed squadron.

After a 6-month deployment to Middle East an initial wave of active and Reserve Airmen who were deployed with the 34th Fighter Squadron returned to Hill three weeks ago. A large contingent from the 34th remain in the region and will return home soon.

For third time in a year, Hill F-35As deploy to Middle East

The squadron performed close air support, offensive and defensive counter-air, and maritime escort which enabled regional deterrence during the deployment. They also operated simultaneously from two different bases for more than three months and participated in multinational exercises, strengthening partnerships with regional allies. The 421st Fighter Squadron will likely take on a similar role.

“I’m extremely proud of our personnel for answering their nation’s call once again, and I’m certain they’ll do an exceptional job,” said Col. Brian Silkey, acting commander for the 419th Fighter Wing. “As always, we truly appreciate the sacrifices of their families and civilian employers as our Citizen Airmen step away to serve, especially now, during these challenging and uncertain times.”

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.

The 388th and 419th are the Air Force first combat-capable F-35A units. The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill in October 2015. The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components. Hill AFB is home to 78 F-35s.

F-35A print
This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-35A Lightning II 56th OG, 61st FS, LF/12-5050 / 2014

Photo credit: Maj. Rodney Ellison and R. Nial Bradshaw / U.S. Air Force


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Dario Leone

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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