The F-35 combat jet has proven to be the most expensive weapons program that the United States has ever initiated. The modern jet has been in development for more than 15 years and after countless delays, the F-35A has finally been declared ready for action today by the United States Air Force. Lockheed Martin won the contract to develop this plane nearly two decades ago. Today’s announcement means that the country’s air force can now send its first operational F-35 squadron into combat operations wherever they are required.

“I am proud to announce this powerful new weapons system has achieved initial combat capability,” said US Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, who is the commander of Air Combat Command.

The F-35A is going to be the most dominant aircraft in the air force’s inventory as it will go where the force’s legacy aircraft can’t and provide the capabilities that are required on the modern battlefield.

The first operational formation is the 34th Fighter Squadron that’s located at Hill Air Force Base. It includes 15 Air Force F-35A jets and 21 combat mission ready pilots.

The Air Force’s declaration of initial operational capability for the F-35A follows the U.S. Marine Corps declaration for the F-35B which was made on this date precisely one year ago.

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