USAF deploys F-35 to UAE

U.S. Air Forces Central Command said in a release that F-35A Lightning IIs from the 388th Fighter Wing and the 419th Fighter Wing, both at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates Monday.

The F-35′s arrival comes a little more than a month after B-1B Lancer bombers completed their deployment at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which left the Air Force with no bomber presence in the Middle East. The joint strike fighters will bolster the Air Force’s firepower in the region as the coalition carries out airstrikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan and scattered remnants of the Islamic State.

Think of the F-35 as the “quarterback of the joint team,” and not simply another stealth fighter, the Air Force chief of staff said Tuesday.

“We are adding a cutting-edge weapons system to our arsenal that significantly enhances the capability of the coalition,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of AFCENT, in the release. “The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theater and deter aggressors.”