The US Air Force has started its first combat deployment with the F-35A Lightning II, amid calls for the new fighter to become more affordable with much-improved mission-capable rates.

Carrying live AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles externally, an F-35A of the 4th EFS flies on the April 30 mission that saw the first actual strikes by the aircraft.
USAF/SSgt Chris Drzazgowski

WITH LITTLE FANFARE, six US Air Force F-35As from the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) ‘Fightin’ Fuujins’ and its Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) associate unit, the 466th EFS ‘Diamondbacks’, slipped into the night on April 11, heading east from Hill AFB, Utah. The first signs of a maiden combat deployment by the USAF’s Lightning IIs came as this first wave of the fighters landed the following day at Morón Air Base in Spain.

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