The US military’s F-35B joint strike fighter conducted its first-ever airstrike in the last 24 hours, according to three US defense officials.
The strike took place in Afghanistan against a fixed Taliban target. The aircraft involved was the US Marine Corps’ variant of the aircraft flying from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship.
The F-35 stealth jet has been called the most expensive weapons system in history, and its development was beset by multiple delays before it was deemed combat ready.
It is touted as the future of military aviation: a lethal and versatile aircraft that combines stealth capabilities, supersonic speed, extreme agility and state-of-the-art sensor fusion technology, according to Lockheed Martin, the plane’s primary contractor.
The F-35B is one of three variants of the F-35 aircraft and the only one with the ability to land vertically like a helicopter. It can also take off in a much shorter space than other fighter jets. The Marine Corps variant was the first to be designated combat ready.
The F-35 has been a favorite of President Donald Trump, who has lauded the aircraft several times for being “invisible.” The aircraft has reduced capability to be seen by adversary radars but is not invisible.