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    F-35 Lightning II: Reinforcing U.S. Air Superiority in the Middle East Amid Geopolitical Turmoil

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    U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II stealth fighters, deployed to deter Iranian aggression and Russian interference, have concluded their mission in the Middle East as of late September 2023, as confirmed by the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The advanced fighters left the region after bolstering U.S. Navy operations in the Strait of Hormuz and over Syria, marking a significant assertion of American airpower in a geopolitically tense landscape.

    Lt. Gen. Alexus G. Grynkewich, Air Forces Central (AFCENT) commander, articulated the impact of the F-35 deployment, stating, “What the F-35s did is they gave us additional capacity.” These capabilities were crucial in supporting the U.S. Navy’s combat air patrols over the Strait of Hormuz and contributed to a broader coalition effort over Syria, deterring Russian fighters from engaging in unsafe behavior toward U.S. forces.

    CAMP SPRINGS, MD, USA – SEPTEMBER 19, 2015: Visitors could check out the F-35 Lightning II, from a distance, during the 2015 Joint Base Andrews Air Show held at Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs Maryland.

    The 421st Air Expeditionary Squadron operated the F-35s which arrived in the region on July 26, prompted by Iranian attacks on commercial shipping and by heightened Russian aerial provocations. In the Persian Gulf, their presence enabled U.S. forces to maintain critical missions while adding sophisticated airpower to back Navy vessels, evidenced by the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group’s deployment, which included Harrier jets capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing operations.

    NEW WINDSOR, NY – JULY 2, 2017: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II from Stewart International Airport during the New York Airshow.

    These actions have effectively discouraged Iran from aggressive acts against maritime shipping in the region. Grynkewich further highlighted the moderation of Russian tactics post-deployment, noting, “They still fly in the airspace, but not directly overhead of our forces, so I welcome that shift in behavior.”

    NEW WINDSOR, NY – JULY 2, 2017: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II from Stewart International Airport during the New York Airshow.

    “My view is that deterrence is temporal,” Grynkewich said of Iran. “We’ve surged forces in response to a specific threat. That shows American commitment to the region. It shows that our American strategy has been, with our posture being less than once, shown a commitment to bring forces in for either major exercises for assurance purposes or when a threat requires it. And we certainly did that in this case.”

    Pilots from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings taxi F-35As on the runway in preparation for a combat power exercise Nov. 19, 2018, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. During the exercise wings confirmed their ability to employ a large force of jets against air and ground targets, demonstrating the readiness and lethality of the F-35 Lightning II. As the first combat-ready F-35 units in the Air Force, the 388th and 419th FWs are ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Cynthia Griggs)

    On Oct. 8, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III announced the Pentagon was enhancing the U.S. presence in the region by deploying the Gerard R. Ford aircraft carrier and cruise missile-carrying ships to the Eastern Mediterranean. The following day, a senior defense official cautioned the militant group Hezbollah to “reconsider” opening a northern front against Israel and stated the U.S. is prepared to intervene militarily.

    related images you might be interested.

    Chicago, Illinois, USA – August 21, 2016: The Chicago Air and Water Show, F-35 Lightning II performing a high speed pass during the airshow
    NEW WINDSOR, NY – AUGUST 2, 2019: The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II from Stewart International Airport during the New York Airshow.
    Leeuwarden Netherlands Oct. 4 2021 Weapon Instructor Course F-35 Lightning II landing
    San Diego, USA – September 24, 2017: Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning US Marine Corps performing at the Miramar Air Show, MCAS Marine Corps Air Station, CA.
    Pictured on day one (on Friday 8th July) of the 2016 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, the largest military airshow in the world.

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