USA

US F-35s Arrive For First Middle East Deployment

The F-35A is designed to operate from regular runways and is the only variant to carry an internal cannon.

US F-35s flying in UAE aerospace (Picture: US Air Force).

US Air Force F-35 aircraft have arrived for their first-ever deployment to the Middle East.

The F-35As, from 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings in Utah, landed at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates.

Last week, a Japanese F-35A disappeared from radar with wreckage later being found.

The pilot remains missing.

The F-35A, the conventional takeoff and landing variant of the fifth generation fighter, is designed to operate from regular runways and is the only variant to carry an internal cannon.

RAF Lakenheath, a station in Suffolk which hosts US personnel, is due to receive its first F-35As by 2021.

US F-35 jets on ground in the UAE (Picture: US Air Force).

Lieutenant General Joseph T. Guastella, US Air Forces Central Command Commander, said:

"We are adding a cutting edge weapons system to our arsenal that significantly enhances the capability of the coalition. 

"The sensor fusion and survivability this aircraft provides to the joint force will enhance security and stability across the theater and deter aggressors."

F-35A lands at RAF Lakenheath
US Air Force F-35A lands at RAF Lakenheath in 2017 (Picture: US Air Force).

US Air Force Chief of Staff, General David L. Goldfein, added: "The F-35A provides our nation air dominance in any threat. 

"When it comes to having a ‘quarterback’ for the coalition joint force, the inter-operable F-35A is clearly the aircraft for the leadership role."

The F-35A has previously deployed to Royal Air Force Lakenheath in April 2017.