The first deployment exercise for the F-35A confirmed that the jet is on track to reach initial operational capability later this year.
A declaration of IOC means the F-35A will be combat ready.
According to the US Air Force, seven F-35A aircraft and 181 personnel from Hill’s active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing pushed the aircraft to its limits at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, during the training in June.
The simulated deployment tested the F-35A against a stringent set of IOC requirements to include basic close air support, aerial interdiction and limited suppression and destruction of enemy aircraft.
Col. David Lyons, 388th FW commander said:
“This was really the capstone event in our preparations to reach IOC and it was a resounding success. By any measure, the aircraft did well. We should be ready to declare IOC very soon.
As a longtime F-16 pilot, I can tell you these numbers are impressive. The F-35 performed phenomenally.”
Dueing the exercise, F-35A pilots flew large-force exercises with F-15Es from Mountain Home’s 366th Fighter Wing and remained undefeated during air-to-air engagements against red air, or “enemy” aircraft.
According to the USAF, known for its highly advanced stealth capability, the F-35 is the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter and is designed to gather, fuse, and distribute more information than any aircraft in history. It can penetrate enemy territory that non-stealth aircraft such as the F-16, A-10, and F-15 cannot.
Col. George Watkins, 34th FS commander said:
“Since the aircraft’s arrival last fall there have been too many milestones to count and we’re making great progress. The Mountain Home deployment marks another significant milestone in validating the F-35A’s capabilities as we pursue IOC.”