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U.S. Air Force's F-35A performs first sortie during Middle East deployment

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron dons an anti-gravity suit in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron dons an anti-gravity suit in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The fleet of F-35s deployed from the 4th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for the first time in Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford)

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron dons a sleeveless flight jacket in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron dons a sleeveless flight jacket in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The fleet of F-35s deployed from active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for the first time in Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford)

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron receives assistance in securing gear to his sleeveless flight jacket in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron receives assistance in securing gear to his sleeveless flight jacket in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The fleet of F-35s deployed from the active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, for the first time in Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford)

Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, performs an inspection prior to launch check on an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, performs an inspection prior to launch check on an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The maintainers of the 380th got the fighter prepared for its first combat mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot steps to an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot steps to an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The pilots were able to perform the first combat operation with the fifth-generation fighter aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

A pilot from 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron climbs into an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

A pilot from 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron climbs into an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The stealth fighter brings the most modern technology to the U.S. Air Force’s inventory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

A pilot from 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs a preflight check on an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

A pilot from 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs a preflight check on an F-35A Lightning II April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The multi-role fighter has an arsenal of missiles and a 25mm cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Staff Sgt. Benito Aranda, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, talks to a 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot before takeoff April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Staff Sgt. Benito Aranda, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, talks to a 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot before takeoff April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The maintainers and pilots of the 388th Fighter Wing deployed together for the first Air Force’s first Middle East deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Staff Sgt. Benito Aranda, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot before takeoff April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Staff Sgt. Benito Aranda, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot before takeoff April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The maintainers and pilots of the 388th Fighter Wing deployed together for the first Air Force’s first Middle East deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron passes gear to a 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief after running system checks on the aircraft April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron passes gear to a 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief after running system checks on the aircraft April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The aircraft is deployed to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility for the first time in U.S. Air Force history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford)

An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs a performance check with the MBU-23/P oxygen mask assembly in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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An F-35A Lightning II pilot assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron performs a performance check with the MBU-23/P oxygen mask assembly in preparation for the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility April 26, 2019, Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The aircraft joined ADAB’s staggering fleet of the E-3 AWACS Sentry, U-2 Dragon Lady, RQ-4 Global Hawk and KC-10 Extender. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford)

A pilot from 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot gestures to the crew chief into an April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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A pilot from 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot gestures to the crew chief into an April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The squadron has its own unique culture of putting their fists in the air to show their pride. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Two F-35A Lightning IIs taxi before takeoff April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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Two F-35A Lightning IIs taxi before takeoff April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This is the first F-35 sortie operated in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Two 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35A Lightning II crew chiefs gesture to a 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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Two 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35A Lightning II crew chiefs gesture to a 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron pilot April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The squadron has its own unique culture of putting their fists in the air to show their pride. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

An F-35A Lightning II takes off April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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An F-35A Lightning II takes off April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This is the first F-35 sortie operated in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

An F-35A Lightning II takes off April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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An F-35A Lightning II takes off April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This is the first F-35 sortie operated in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Two F-35A Lightning IIs fly to their first combat mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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Two F-35A Lightning IIs fly to their first combat mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This is the first F-35 sortie operated in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, performs an inspection prior to launch April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew chief, performs an inspection prior to launch April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The maintainers of the 380th got the fighter prepared for its first combat mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot meets a crew chief April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot meets a crew chief April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This is the first F-35 sortie operated in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxis prior to take-off at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 26, 2019.
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An F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxis prior to take-off at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 26, 2019. The aircraft made history performing the first combat sortie in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jocelyn A. Ford)

A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot sits in his aircraft before a mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot sits in his aircraft before a mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The stealth fighter brings the most modern technology to the U.S. Air Force’s inventory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot meets a crew chief April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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A 4th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II pilot meets a crew chief April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. This is the first F-35 sortie operated in the Middle East for the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

An F-35A Lightning II sits under a sunshade before the first combat mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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An F-35A Lightning II sits under a sunshade before the first combat mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The stealth fighter brings the most modern technology to the U.S. Air Force’s inventory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

An F-35A Lightning II sits under a sunshade before the first combat mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
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An F-35A Lightning II sits under a sunshade before the first combat mission April 26, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The stealth fighter brings the most modern technology to the U.S. Air Force’s inventory. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Thornbury)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates --