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Trial F-35A Deployment Smooths Path for First Combat Squadron

Flightglobal // February 24, 2016

Six F-35A of 31st Test Evaluation Squadron have deployed to Mountain Home AFB in Idaho this month for an “operational deployment test” that will clear the way for 10 operational jets from the first combat-coded squadron, which will follow this summer.

U.S. Air Force Photo

Normally based at Edwards AFB in California, the six test aircraft are flying training sorties alongside locally housed Fairchild Republic A-10s and Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles at a nearby weapons range.

The air force announced this week that the F-35s arrived on 8 February, and a base spokesman confirms the six jets are still there.

Another base spokeswoman says the aircraft are testing the Lockheed Martin-built fighter type’s ability to pick-up and deploy to an unfamiliar forward location. The test squadron will pass back any “lessons learned” to the first combat-coded squadron known as the Rude Rams at Hill AFB prior to its arrival in May or June.

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