The USAF has successfully completed a four-day operational deployment of F-35A fighters to a forward location in the Middle East.
The detachment, comprising elements of the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (4th EFS) and the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing (332nd AEW) deployed to the undisclosed location from Al Dhafra Air Base near Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
The exercise was the first adaptive basing exercise conducted by the F-35A in the US Central Command area of responsibility, and will inform the service and allied operators on how best to deploy the aircraft to austere locations and conduct ‘untethered’ operations.
“Exercise Agile Lightning is a demonstration of the agile basing concepts practiced by USAF fighter squadrons from their home bases,” 4th EFS commander Lt Col Joshua Arki said in a statement. “The 4th EFS successfully deployed a small detachment of aircraft and personnel to a forward location, supporting combat operations from that location for a given period of time, and then re-deployed back to our primary operating location.
“By executing the adaptive basing concepts we have only practiced at home until now, we increased the readiness, survivability, and lethality of the F-35A in a combat theatre,” Lt Col Arki added. “The Agile Lightning team worked hard to coordinate with multiple bases and across USAF core disciplines, such as logistics, munitions, force support, communications, air mobility, Combined Air Operations Center staff, etc, to ensure mission success.”