US Military F-35B Conducts First Air Strike

An F-35B on deck of assault ship USS Essex (Picture: US Department of Defense).

A US military F-35B Lightning II has conducted its first air strike in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel in Afghanistan.

The aircraft launched the strike as part of ground clearance operations.

Vice Admiral Scott Stearney, commander, US Naval Forces Central Command said the F-35B was a "significant enhancement" in their capability.

The F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 are currently embarked on the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex.

Meanwhile, off the coast of the United States, American F-35B aircraft, flown by British pilots, are due to begin flight trials from British warship HMS Queen Elizabeth in the coming days.

Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson MP commented on what the F35 landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth would mean for Britain: "This is going to be such a pivotal moment for the Royal Navy but also the Royal Air Force who have been hand in glove with the Royal Navy on the F35 project.

"This really does show that our carrier strike capability isn't just going to be a dream but it is actually a reality.    

"With HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales coming forward - this gives Britain the opportunity and the ability to be able to project our influence and power right across the world."

Defence Minister, Tobias Ellwood MP echoed Mr Williamson: "Very exciting time here as we move forward with the aircraft carrier. Now it all comes together, the trials take place with the F35s coming and soon it will be operational.

"It's a fantastic advancement of our capability for the Armed Forces."

In May, Israel claimed to have used on of its F-35 fighter jets during a combat operation making it the first nation to do so.

More: The ABCs of the F-35: Why Are There Three Variants?

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