The target was less than impressive.
F-35A Flew A Combat Mission. Let's Not Get Too Excited Just Yet.
These problems will have to be mitigated because if they are not, the consequences of America’s premier combat aircraft ending as a failure are too horrible to contemplate. We can say at this point that the F-35 can take off, drop a few bombs on a target defenseless against air attack, and safely return to base.
If dropping bombs on caves and tunnels were a guarantee of a weapon’s success, the F-35 would be awesome.
(This first appeared several weeks ago.)
On April 30, two U.S. Air Force F-35A stealth fighters attacked ISIS positions in Iraq. “The F-35As conducted the airstrike using a Joint Direct Attack Munition to strike an entrenched Daesh tunnel network and weapons cache deep in the Hamrin Mountains, a location able to threaten friendly forces,” according to the Air Force announcement.
The strike marked the first time—or at least the first public admission—that the Air Force had used the Lightning II in combat. In September 2018, the Marine Corps became the first U.S. service to fly an F-35 combat mission, with a strike against Taliban positions in Afghanistan, followed by more than 100 F-35B sorties in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria from aircraft based on the amphibious assault ship USS Essex. First blood for the F-35 probably belongs to the Israeli Air Force, which has sent its F-35Is on missions over Syria.