US military operations in the Middle East will get support from US Air Force F-35s that range from escort, intimidate enemies, recon missions, and back up attack missions in the US Military's Central Command region.

According to the US Air Force, this is the latest squadron of top-line F-35A Lightning IIs that have been thrust into operations to join other services, the 3rd time in 12 months that the new fighter has been deployed for combat, reported in Fox News.

Air force representatives stated that the 421st Fighter Squadron has left Hill Air Force Base (AFB) to a staging area in Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates citing Wikipedia. Their function is to air support for the United States Air Force Central Command in the Middle East.

A more precise description of the mission is the less emphasis on attacking the Islamic State or the Taliban, but more in training, stopping potential attacks, protecting US assets, and last escorting ships in the Gulf, also working with other nations in war exercises. This mission of the 421st is important to US Military efforts in the Middle East.

F-35 and Close Air Support (CAS) missions

The multi-role plane's first mission was attacking the Taliban, and observers noticed that it excelled in close air support (CAS). One of the US Air Force intentions is the use of the Lightning II as ground-attack aircraft, the Pentagon decided the F-35 was a worthy successor to the aged A-10 Warthog that was subsonic compared to it, mentioned in Business Insider.

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But some think the F-35 is a bit too much in its emphasis on ground attack, with its thinner armor compared to the A-10 flying tank. Yet, despite the age, some are preferring the A-10 to be retained as CAS. According to Air Force developers, the Lightning has the advanced sensors, targeting systems, hi-caliber auto-cannon, and its speed that makes up for its thin skin.

Unlike the A-10, the Lightning II has a new suite of sensors that sense ground targets at better standoff ranges without getting too close to bristling enemy fire. The lightning IIs are made for high speed maneuvering, for improved evasion and attack of ground targets. It's 25-millimeter cannon, sensors that are drone like, surveillance, recon for better versatility. The combat suite will point targets, terrain sensing, and pinpoint attack on ground forces with close quarter capability to fight with ground assets.

Compared to the A-10, the F-35 Lightning II will be up to date on enemy movement to act quickly, such as a switch to air to air combat to change engagement. Its sensors will designate enemies that will be targeted by it or other combat systems. One edge of the Lightning II is better weapons loadout and precision technology for targeting ground forces. Although use of newer aircraft to attack ground targets is not cost effective when US air supremacy is not needed, according to We are the Mighty.

Sending the F-35s to deter CAS is just the tip of the iceberg, but most times the US Air Force has air superiority in most theatres of combat in the Middle East. The Lightning IIs role will more likely extend to interdicting Iranian air missions, and attack ICBM sites and attack nuclear weapons facilities.

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