After 15 long years of hurdles with the aircraft, the United States Air Force finally declares F-35 fighters ready for deployment in real combat missions should the need arise.
On Tuesday, a report from the official website of the Air Force revealed details about the announcement which was conducted by Gen. Herb “Hawk” Carlisle.
“I am proud to announce this powerful new weapons system has achieved initial combat capability. The F-35A will be the most dominant aircraft in our inventory because it can go where our legacy aircraft cannot and provide the capabilities our commanders need on the modern battlefield,” Carlisle said.
According to the commander of Air Combat Command of the Air Force, the conventional takeoff model F-35A fighter jet can already be deployed anytime should the need arise since all key criteria needed has been met.
The 34th Fighter Squadron of the 388th Fighter Wing based at the Hill Air Force Base in Utah will be the first to enjoy the privilege of flying the recently approved advanced jet.
While it is good to hear that the F-35 fighters is deemed ready for combat, the actual need for it might still be nerve-wracking for its pilots considering the fact that practice is very different from theory; the jets took 15 years to get ready, Engadget explained.
According to the outlet, it took Lockheed Martin Corp. 15 years since it won the very first production contract on the project to finally make the fighter jets combat ready after encountering numerous glitches.
Even that may still not hold true in the very sense of the word, particularly when a Wall Street Journal correspondent noted that the F-35A fighter jets may not really be ready for combat until October this year.
Caveat on today’s F-35A initial operational capability is that it won’t be initially capable until at least October. https://t.co/v4JhZwitlR
— Jon Ostrower (@jonostrower) August 2, 2016
Furthermore, there is still a lot of groundwork to cover before the U.S. government actually deploys the F-35A jets to defend the country from active threats.
Bloomberg elaborated with a report stating that the fighter jets would not have a complete set of combat equipment, automated maintenance, and diagnostic capabilities until it is enhanced further to the most advanced level which is not expected until 2018.
Furthermore, full combat capability won’t be declared earlier than August 2018 which is the month when the Air Force would actually put the fight jets into dynamic operational exercises.
Initially, each fighter jet will be armed with two air-to-air missiles and either two GPS-guided bombs weighing 2,000 pounds or two laser-guided weapons that are estimated to be 500 pounds heavy.
Lockheed revealed that they are expected to deliver 53 of the fighter jets by the end of 2016, bringing the total number of F-35 jets already acquired by the U.S. government to 180.
So far, the Air Force have no known record of deploying fighter jets to actual combats, though Carlisle assured the press that he would not hesitate to do so should a U.S. regional commander request him to do so.
Bloomberg dubbed each of the F-35 fighter jets as a “flying computer” which has over 8 million lines of software code and is estimated to be worth $379 billion per fleet of 2,443 aircraft.
Because of its price, the Lockheed contract has been closely scrutinized as it is considered the American government’s costliest weapon system.
Even so, the Air Force is still proud of this accomplishment as USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James deemed the fighter jets necessary tools to ensure peace all over the world.
“This important milestone for our fighter force ensures the United States, along with our allies and international partners, remains prepared to deter, deny, and defeat the full spectrum of growing threats around the globe.”
[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]