F-35A Lightning II jets in flight from the 34th Fighter Squadron out of Hill Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force photo

U.S. Air Force to receive fully operational F-35A squadron

By Stephen Carlson, UPI

The U.S. Air Force is poised to activate its first fully combat capable squadron of F-35 Lightning II fighter jets following completion of software upgrades.

The 34th Fighter Squadron located at Hill Air Force Base in Utah is expected to receive the first F-35s equipped with the finalized Block 3F software in September. The Block 3F upgrade will allow the F-35 to fully utilize its weapons and sensor systems, which until now have only been partially operational.

A training squadron at Luke AFB is the next slated to receive the upgraded F-35s, which is also scheduled for September.

The Air Force is considering sending the 34th to the Pacific as a deterrent to North Korean aggression once the squadron is fully operational later this year.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson said in a press conference on August 25 that the F-35 would be ready to go into combat if hostilities occur. Marine Corps F-35s currently stationed in the Pacific have not received the upgrades and would not be fully functional.

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