388FW’s F-35s return to the UAE

The 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, the US Air Force’s first combat coded F-35 unit, deployed again its F-35As just two weeks after the end of the first combat deployment. The 34th Fighter Squadron “Rude Rams” moved last week to Al Dhafra Air Base, in the United Arab Emirates, to support the Central Command (CENTCOM) mission in the Middle East, The Aviationist reports.

The deployed group is made up of active duty pilots from the 34th FS and Reserve pilots from the 466th FS of the 419th FW (based at Hill AFB), as well as a mix of active duty and reserve personnel for maintenance and other support roles.

“I’m extremely proud of all of our Airmen in the 388th and 419th fighter wings,” said Col. Steven Behmer, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “Both they and this platform are absolutely ready for this short-notice tasking, bringing the unique combat capabilities of the F-35A to the fight.”

The first combat deployment of the US Air Force’s F-35A ended just two weeks ago, when the 4th FS “Fighting Fuujins” returned to Hill AFB after a 6-month deployment to Al Dhafra. The same active duty and reserve personnel mix was employed also for this first deployment, as the 466th FS joined the 4th FS overseas. During the deployment the F-35s performed both training and combat operations, including the first air strike mission, demonstrating the maturity and flexibility of employment of the asset, in spite of the continuous critics against the Joint Strike Fighter program.