Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II Arrives for First Middle East Deployment
(Source: U.S. Air Forces Central Command; issued April 15, 2019)
A crew chief meets an F-35A pilot at Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE, on Monday. Six F-35As deployed to the Middle East for the first time, after stopping over for the week-end at Moron air base, in Spain, where they arrived on Friday. (USAF photo)
AL DHAFRA Air Base, UAE --- The U.S. Air Force’s fifth-generation multi-role aircraft arrived for its first deployment to the Middle East on April 15. The F-35A Lightning IIs are from active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

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.

“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.

The F-35A has previously deployed to Royal Air Force 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.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: The F-35’s first operational deployment, like many other events regarding this program, has produced a series of contradictions and inconsistencies that create needless confusion.
This is how events played out:
-- On Friday afternoon Central European Time (CET), the Dutch online aviation magazine Scramble posted a story on its Facebook page titled “Hill F-35As On Their Way for Their First Combat Deployment” and tweeted about it.
It said six F-35As had landed at Moron air base, near Seville in Spain, on their way to an unspecified destination.
-- Also on Friday, Defense News posted a story on the same subject, promising it would be updated as information came available.
-- By Monday morning CET, however, that story had disappeared from the Defense News website, and its author said she had written nothing on this deployment, and knew nothing about it. The author suggested in might have been an old story generated by a bug in the DN website.
-- Also on Monday afternoon CET, the Public Affairs Office of the United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa headquarters at Ramstein AFB, in Germany, said they were not aware of the F-35A deployment to Moron, but promised to look into it and report back to us.
-- At 23:58 CET on Monday night, the first of two stories about the deployment were issued by the Pentagon’s DVIDS (see below)
-- Both stories were posted during the night on the respective websites of the two fighter wings involved in the deployment (see above and following story).
-- However, neither one provides any information about their transit to Al Dhafra, not their stop-over at Moron air base, which begs the question of why these details are being kept from the public.
-- By Tuesday noon CET, we had not heard back from USAFE-AFA headquarters.
The only logical conclusion, albeit highly speculative, is that an over-zealous interpretation of operational security rules led to Defense News deleting its story after it had been posted.
If true, this in another instance of needless mysteries generated about the F-35 that entertains the many doubts and skepticism about the credibility of the program’s communications.
We will update this story as warranted.)


(ends)



Hill Airmen Depart for F-35A’s First Middle East Deployment
(Source: US Air Force 419th Fighter Wing; issued April 15, 2019)
HILL AFB, Utah --- F-35A pilots, maintainers, and support personnel from the Air Force Reserve 419th Fighter Wing and active duty 388th Fighter Wing deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates last week – the first Middle East deployment for the U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Lightning II.

The group is made up of personnel from the active duty 4th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, as well as Airmen from their respective aircraft maintenance units and a variety of F-35 support personnel. They will support efforts underway throughout U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“Having converted from flying the F-16 and being with the F-35 program here at Hill from the very beginning, this deployment is a huge milestone,” said Lt. Col. Shad Stromberg, F-35 pilot in the 419th FW. As Stromberg’s eighth deployment, he said he hopes to be able to share his experience with some of the younger pilots. “It’s really important to be able to lean on someone and learn from those who’ve been there before.”

When Stromberg isn’t in uniform, he’s a civilian pilot with Delta Air Lines.

“It’s exciting to be on this historic first F-35A deployment to the Middle East,” said Senior Airman Caleb Shumway, a weapons load crew member in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “For us here at Hill, we practice loading munitions for these kinds of missions on a regular basis. The only difference for us this time around is that we’re taking these skills overseas.”

When he’s not serving part time in the Air Force Reserve, Shumway is a construction worker and business marketing student.

The F-35A is the Air Force’s conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Department of Defense’s Joint Strike Fighter fleet. It provides greater operational capability by combining advanced stealth capabilities with the latest weapons technology.

“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, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. “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 Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. “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.

F-35A aircraft and personnel from Hill AFB previously deployed to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, in April 2017, as well as the U.S. Pacific region in the fall of 2017.

“As a Total Force effort with a mix of active duty and Reserve Airmen working side by side, this is no different than what we do on a day-to-day basis here at Hill,” said Col. Gina Sabric, 419th FW commander. “We train together and fight together, and as the first deployment for the F-35A to the Middle East, I’m one hundred percent confident we’ll deliver.”

Sabric also thanked the civilian employers of reservists who understand the importance of this mission and allowed them to take leave from their civilian jobs to serve in their military capacity.

The 419th FW and 388th FW are the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35 units, maintaining the jets in a Total Force partnership that utilizes the strengths of both components. Hill AFB is slated to be home to 78 aircraft by the end of 2019.

(ends)




Hill Airmen Deploy F-35A to Support Coalition Forces
(Source: US Air Force 388th Fighter Wing; issued April 15, 2019)
HILL AFB, Utah --- Airmen from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings here deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates last week to support the United States Air Force Central Command mission in the Middle East. The aircraft arrived on April 15.

“For those of us who have been a part of the F-35 program for a while, this is a huge milestone,” said 388th FW commander, Col. Lee Kloos, to a group of Airmen gathered in Hill’s Deployment Control Center. “You’re the first. We’re proud of you and we’ll be watching you as you bring this jet’s capabilities to bear in support of our nation’s defense.”

As the first deployment to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, the Airmen are prepared and trained for the AFCENT mission.

“As the first operational F-35 wing in the Air Force we’ve been working toward this since we received our first jets in 2015,” said Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, 4th Fighter Squadron commander. “We have been successful in two Red Flags, we’ve deployed to Europe and to Asia. Our Airmen are ready for this mission.”

The group of Airmen is made up of pilots from the active duty 4th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, as well as active duty and Reserve Airmen in the 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, and personnel in other support functions.

For many Airmen, like Staff Sgt. Riley Curry, who have been in the F-35A program their entire career, this is their first deployment. They said getting ready for the deployment was the hard part, but carrying out the mission is second nature.

“It’s a neat to be on our first deployment and part of the first operational F-35A deployment, but we’re going out to do our job – the same one we do here every day,” said Curry, a munitions controller with the 388th Maintenance Squadron.

The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, is America’s most advanced multi-role stealth fighter.

“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, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. “The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theater and deter aggressors.”

Because of the stealth and advanced technology designed into the F-35A, it can survive and operate in air space other aircraft cannot. Its ability to gather and pass threat and target information to other platforms, improves lethality, survivability and adaptability of the entire force, leaders say.

“The F-35A provides our nation air dominance in any threat,” said Gen. David L. Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the Air Force. “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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