USAF F-35As demonstrate endurance and reach during Northern Edge

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dwane R. Young
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

The combat capabilities of U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II fighter jets were on full display during Northern Edge 23-2 at Kadena Air Base, July 4, 2023.

Four fighter jets assigned to the 355th Fighter Squadron launched out of Eielson Air Base, Alaska, and flew for ten hours joining allied forces in the air for a simulated combat training mission over the Indo-Pacific region.

“This was the first time F-35s have flown directly from a home base in North America into the first island chain to participate in a tactical training mission,” said Lt. Col. Michael Mickus, 355th FS commander, “This flight demonstrates the USAF’s ability to deploy fighter aircraft from Alaska directly into potential combat operations in a highly relevant part of the world.”

The “deploy to employ” mission’s success was the culmination of careful planning and coordination across Indo-Pacific Command aimed to increase lethality while strengthening interoperability between the U.S. and allied forces in the Pacific.

“We were escorted by three KC-135 Stratotankers who refueled us 13 times, in order to join our assets that launched from Kadena and Iwakuni within a narrow 15-minute flying window,” said Capt. Joshua Christen, 355th FS, pilot. “Coordination and synchronization played a vital role in our success today.

Upon mission completion, the F-35s safely landed at Kadena Air Base, concluding a historic endurance mission that validated the U.S Air Force’s ability to deliver airpower on-time, on-target across vast distances.

Northern Edge 23-2 is a combined, joint, all domain field training exercise taking place at various locations in the Pacific region from July 2-21. It provides a training ground for aircraft and personnel to practice, project and exercise agile combat employment capabilities to ensure long-lasting peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“This was the longest mission I've flown in my Air Force career, " said Capt. Rachel Self, 355th FS, pilot. “Northern Edge provides opportunities for us to train like we will fight—as a joint and coalition force.”