On September 28, the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) announced in an official statement that the Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II stealth multirole fighter has been used in a combat operation for the first time ever.
According to the France-Press Agency (AFP), the F-35B flew from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship and carried out airstrikes on positions of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province. The news agency suggested that more than one F-35B were involved in the combat operation.
“The F-35B is a significant enhancement in theater amphibious and air warfighting capability, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy … As part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, this platform supports operations on the ground from international waters, all while enabling maritime superiority that enhances stability and security,” Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander of the NAVCENT said in the official statement.
Last May, the Israeli military revealed that it used its newly acquired F-35s to strike at least two unspecified targets in the region, thus Israel became the first country to use the advance stealth fighter in a combat operation.
The F-35 is the most expensive weapons system in the U.S. history. According to the Pentagon’s selected acquisition report (SAR), the total cost of developing, building, operating and maintaining 2,457 F-35s ordered by the U.S. Army will exceed $1.5 trillion.