The USAF’s F-35A Just Saw Combat for the First Time

The U.S. Air Force’s F-35A Joint Strike Fighter saw combat for the first time earlier this week, dropping a satellite-guided bomb on an Islamic State target in northeast Iraq. The mission was the first for the service’s variant of the F-35 since the jet was declared initial operations capable in August 2016.

According to U.S. Central Command, the target was an “entrenched tunnel network and a weapons cache” in Iraq’s Hamrin mountain range. Two F-35As dropped a Joint Directed Attack Munition on the target, described as a “location able to threaten friendly forces.” JDAMs are regular unguided “dumb” bombs fitted with a GPS-based guidance system and steerable tail fin kit. The pilot enters the GPS coordinates of the target into the JDAM and the guided munition will steer itself to the target. Military GPS is typically accurate to within 3 meters, making JDAMs extremely accurate.

READ MORE