The Idaho Air National Guard welcomed U.S. Marines from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 225, who fly the F-35B Lightning II, to Gowen Field Jan. 7-9.
“The F-35B is a fifth-generation fighter and the Marine Corps version of the Joint Strike Fighter, which utilizes short take-off vertical landing,” said Lt. Col. Mike Hampton, 190th FS director of operations. “It can take off and land vertically on boats or short, unconventional type airstrips and is unparalleled in its ability to identify, locate and destroy the most modern air defenses on the battlefield.”
Integrating and training with different airframe generations provides a unique collaboration.
“This shows that one of the best attack aircraft in the inventory, the mighty A-10 Thunderbolt II, can lethally integrate with the newest, most advanced aircraft in the world, the F-35 Lightning II,” Hampton said. “Additionally, it is an opportunity for two services to train together in anticipation of fighting alongside each other in future conflicts.”
This anticipation and preparation are essential for combat readiness against a near-peer enemy.
“Training with other units is a critical component to our wing maintaining combat readiness,” said Col. Chad Kornberg, 124th FW commander. “We typically operate in a joint combat environment, working hand-in-hand with other services, and this training is imperative to prepare our pilots for combat operations.”
The training will focus on the strengths of each airframe.
“We’ll focus on Forward Air Control (Airborne) or FAC-A, which entails A-10 pilots finding targets on the battlefield and passing targeting information to the F-35s, so they can strike each target using the best munition available, ensuring friendly troops on the ground are safe and giving them the freedom of maneuver,” Hampton said.
Having units visit and train is nothing new but this trip was a first for Idaho.
“This is the first time we’ve worked with F-35s and we continue to build these types of relationships throughout all services and airframes,” Hampton said. “Other units outside of Idaho continue to come here because we have some of the best ranges in the world thanks to the outstanding Airmen in the Idaho Air National Guard.”