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F-35 crews conquer new territory in CENTCOM AOR

By Lt. Col. Tim Wade 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

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The 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron did something in early July which had never been done before by an F-35A Lightning II unit - go into alert status.

The squadron performed alert status exercises to provide the necessary data points to mission planners with the U.S. Air Force Central Command Air Operations Center.

“This hasn’t been done before with F-35s and operational control or at ADAB with F-35s,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Redmond, 421st EFS commander. “It effectively adds another capability or tool in leadership’s toolkit for how to deter, defend, or respond to events in the region.”

The F-35A is an agile, versatile, high-performance, multirole fighter that combines stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness.  It contains state-of-the-art tactical data links that provide the secure sharing of data among its flight members as well as other airborne, surface and ground-based platforms required to perform assigned missions.

Senior leadership applauded the efforts of the unit members in setting the pace.

Our commitment to deterrence was proven during this exercise,” said Col. Kristen Thompson, 380th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. ”The F-35 was an integral part of a base-wide effort to further demonstrate our agility and our resolve.  I am continually proud of the 421st EFS and their ability to set new standards and leverage our ability to project power.”

The capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter allows the U.S. to maintain strong ties in the region by providing stability to its allies and partners.

“Our hope is to be a valuable contributor to the stability of this region and be prepared to defend it if necessary,” said Redmond.