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US Air Force Begins Deployment Tests for F-35 Jet in State of Idaho

USAF announced that a flight of six Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II jets is starting an operational deployment test.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — A flight of six Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II jets is starting an operational deployment test in the heartland US state of Idaho, the US Air Force announced in a report.

"Six F-35-As arrived at Mountain Home AFB [Air Force Base], Idaho, February 8, 2016, from Edwards AFB, California, to begin an operational deployment test at a nearby range complex," the report from the 366th Fighter Wing of the US Air Force stated on Monday.

The test will help develop the concept of operations as well as validate the aircraft's capability to deploy, the report said.

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In order for the Air Force to declare initial operating capability for the F-35A, the aircraft must be able to execute three key mission sets: suppression and destruction of enemy air defense; air interdiction missions; as well as conduct basic close air support — to include alert launches, the report acknowledged.

The F-35 jet is now the most expensive airplane in military history with a procurement cost for 1,736 aircraft of $215 billion. However, development of the jet has already cost the Defense Department some $400 billion, and the program requires significantly more funding before it can be declared fully operational.

The F-35 aircraft has suffered a number of problems, including faulty mechanics, cyber vulnerabilities and inferiority when compared to its predecessors such as F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet. US allies Canada and Norway have already withdrawn from participating in the troubled F-35 program.

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