- Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew missions in “beast mode” in support of US forces in Afghanistan.
- The fighters were each carrying a full loadout of external weapons, including six precision bombs and two air-to-air missiles.
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Two F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters recently flew a mission in the Middle East in “beast mode,” meaning they were loaded up with as much firepower as they could carry.
The F-35s with the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron took off from Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to execute a mission in support of US forces in Afghanistan, Air Forces Central Command said. The fifth-generation fighters sacrificed their high-end stealth to fly with full loadouts of weaponry on their wings.
“Beast mode,” the carrying of weapons internally and externally to boost the overall firepower of the aircraft, is also known as the “Third Day of War” configuration. At the start of a fight, the F-35 would store all of its weapons internally to maintain low observability, as the external weapons would likely increase the surfaces that enemy radar could detect.
The fighters carried six GBU-49 Paveway laser-guided precision bombs and two AIM-9X Sidewinder infrared-tracking short-range air-to-air missiles externally. Air Forces Central Command released a video on Friday of 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Group teams loading the weapons onto the jets.
The #F35A Lightning II supports U.S. forces in the @CENTCOM AoR through the fulfillment of requirements using its various capabilities. Check it out for yourselves! https://t.co/Blscdayy5L#USAF #AirForce #Military #Aviation #Aircraft @usairforce @DeptofDefense @USAF_ACC pic.twitter.com/F6B035iCYH
— US AFCENT (@USAFCENT) May 24, 2019
US Air Forces deployed the F-35A to the Middle East, the US Central Command area of responsibility, for the first time in April. The aircraft flew their first sortie on April 26.
Four days later, the F-35s, which were pulled from the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing, conducted a strike in Wadi Ashai, Iraq. The mission, carried out in support of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve marked the F-35A’s first combat mission, according to the US Air Force.
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