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The high-tech stealth F-35A made its combat debut against... a cave
In an event two decades in the making, the Air Force's variant of the F-35 has finally flown its first combat mission.
Two F-35As from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, attacked an ISIS tunnel network and weapons cache in northeast Iraq on Tuesday, according to U.S. Air Forces Central Command.
No information was immediately available on Tuesday about how successful the strike was.
While the mission marks a milestone in the F-35's long development, it also begs the question: Why is the Air Force using its most sophisticated and expensive aircraft, which is designed to penetrate advanced Russian and Chinese air defense systems, to blow up a cave?
"The F-35A has sensors everywhere, it has advanced radar, and it is gathering and fusing all this information from the battlespace in real time," Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, 4th Fighter Squadron commander, said in a news release. "Now it has the ability to take that information and share it with other F-35s or even other fourth generation aircraft in the same package that can also see the integrated picture."
Monday's mission comes after a Marine Corps F-35 squadron bombed both ISIS and the Taliban last year while deployed aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex. Before that, Israel became the first country to use the F-35 in combat last May when its version of the Joint Strike Fighter conducted airstrikes in Syria.
The F-35As that flew Tuesday's strike were with the active-duty 388th and reserve 491th Fighter Wings, which arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, for a training exercise.
It is possible the F-35As will fly more combat missions during the remainder of their time in the U.S. Central Command region, a U.S. official said on Tuesday.
WATCH NEXT: Did The Yak 141 Influence The F-35?
The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act would allow service members to seek compensation when military doctors make mistakes that harm them, but they would still be unable to file medical malpractice lawsuits against the federal government.
On Monday night, Congress announced that it had finalized the NDAA, which must be passed by the House and Senate before going to President Donald Trump. If the president signs the NDAA into law, it would mark the first time in nearly seven decades that U.S. military personnel have had legal recourse to seek payment from the military in cases of medical malpractice.
A major serving at U.S. Army Cyber Command has been charged with distributing child pornography, according to the Justice Department.
Maj. Jason Michael Musgrove, who is based at Fort Gordon, Georgia, has been remanded to the U.S. Marshals service, a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Georgia says.
Pardoned soldiers Clint Lorance and Mathew Golsteyn were special guests at a recent Trump fundraiser
President Donald Trump, speaking during a closed-door speech to Republican Party of Florida donors at the state party's annual Statesman's Dinner, was in "rare form" Saturday night.
The dinner, which raised $3.5 million for the state party, was met with unusual secrecy. The 1,000 attendees were required to check their cell phones into individual locked cases before they entered the unmarked ballroom at the south end of the resort. Reporters were not allowed to attend.
But the secrecy was key to Trump's performance, which attendees called "hilarious."
Riding the high of the successful event turnout — and without the pressure of press or cell phones — Trump transformed into a "total comedian," according to six people who attended the event and spoke afterward to the Miami Herald.
He also pulled an unusual move, bringing on stage Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who Trump pardoned last month for cases involving war crimes. Lorance was serving a 19-year sentence for ordering his soldiers shoot at unarmed men in Afghanistan, and Golsteyn was to stand trial for the 2010 extrajudicial killing of a suspected bomb maker.
Retired Col. Charles McGee stepped out of the small commercial jet and flashed a smile.
Then a thumbs-up.
McGee had returned on a round-trip flight Friday morning from Dover Air Force Base, where he served as co-pilot on one of two flights done especially for his birthday.
By the way he disembarked from the plane, it was hard to tell that McGee, a Tuskegee Airman, was turning 100.
The new acting secretary of the Navy said recently that he is open to designing a fleet that is larger than the current 355-ship plan, one that relies significantly on unmanned systems rather than solely on traditional gray hulls.