It’s been 15 years since Lockheed Martin first won its production contract. The F-35 Lightning II has faced more than a few technical problems and cost overruns, but it’s nearly done overcoming those hurdles.
The first squadron to get the advanced jet, the 34th Fighter Squadron at Utah's Hill Air Force Base, can now deploy it on real-world missions if necessary, as the US Air Force has declared that the F-35A officially ready for combat.
Although, the Wall Street Journal's Jon Ostrower notes that it won't really be capable until "at least" October. The fighter's current software prevents it from making full use of its capabilities (such as launching certain weapons) at the moment. While the Marine Corps said its F-35 model (the short/vertical takeoff-capable F-35B) was ready in July 2015, it was glitchy and missing key functionality at that point. To be on the same side, it'll likely take some time before the F-35 deploys to an active theater, like the fight against ISIS -- Air Combat Command estimates 2017.