General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle Commander, Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia said Friday the F-35A will deploy to Europe this ‘spring to summertime’ but don’t look for the aircraft to participate in the fight against ISIS anytime soon.

“The plan is a few years out. It’s not going to happen this year,” Air Force Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle told reporters during a breakfast in Washington, D.C.

“But we have plans to send it to the Middle East in the not-too-distant future,” Carlisle added. “It would deploy as an asset for the [Combined Forces Air Component commander] at Al Udeid [Qatar], so he would use it as he would see fit, and I would certainly expect it to participate in operations just like the F-22 is today.” – Military.com

Carlisle stated he is confident in the F-35A and its combat capability based on its recent performance at Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada where the F-35 “performed extremely well.”

The Air Force is also planning to deploy the stealth fighter to the Pacific this year. Also, the Marine Corps recently sent a squadron of F-35B variant aircraft to Japan and the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force received its first F-35 in December 2016.

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The Air Force is under pressure to show the operational capabilities of the F-35 but at the same time they can’t risk placing it in actual combat situations before the program is fully tested and ready.

Lt. General Jon “Dog” Davis, Marine Corps Deputy Commandant of Aviation recently stated that the Marine Corps wants to speed up their acquisition of the F-35B.  “We’d transition squadrons faster is what we’d do,” Davis said. “We’d develop a plan where we’d be out of F-18 and Harrier completely by 2026.”

What do you think? Is the F-35 ready for combat?

Featured image of an F-35 via Youtube screen capture