F-35 Fighter Ready For Combat Debut With Marines

David Krayden | Ottawa Bureau Chief

The F-35 joint strike fighter is prepared to enter combat for this first time this week with the U.S. Marine Corps. As CNN reports, the state-of-the-art aircraft is slated to take off from the USS Essex within days to deliver airstrikes over Afghanistan.

The Essex is headed for the Persian Gulf, defense officials told CNN. (RELATED: Reporters Take On F-35 Fighter Jet Simulation)

The F-35 is also the primary fighter jet chosen by the U.S. Air Force, Britain’s Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force. It could still someday be used by the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Canadian military retires its F-18s.

The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Monday with an added bipartisan clause that blocks the transfer of F-35 fighter jets, considered one of the most advance warplanes in the world, to Turkey. shutterstock_747972910

The U.S. Senate passed a $716 billion defense policy bill on Monday with an added bipartisan clause that blocks the transfer of F-35 fighter jets, considered one of the most advance warplanes in the world, to Turkey. shutterstock_747972910

F-35s are currently engaged in surveillance operations over Somalia and could be used to support ground forces there.

The USMC is flying the F-35B version of the fighter; it is capable of landing vertically and is ideal for aircraft carrier operations. Although the fighter is a technological marvel that combines speed, agility and stealth capability, it has had its share of critics who say the plane entered service with some unsolved engineering issues.

F-35A Lightning IIs, perform an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker May 13, 2013, off the coast of northwest Florida. The 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is a joint graduate flying and maintenance training wing that trains Air Force, Marine, Navy and international partner operators and maintainers of the F-35 Lightning II. The F-35As are assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd FW. The KC-135 is assigned to from the 336th Air Refueling Squadron from March ARB, Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)

F-35A Lightning IIs, perform an aerial refueling mission with a KC-135 Stratotanker May 13, 2013, off the coast of northwest Florida.  (U.S. Air Force photo/ Master Sgt. Donald R. Allen)

The USMC was ready with its first squadron of F-35s in July of 2015, while the USAF followed one year later with its own operational capability.

President Donald Trump is a particular fan of the F-35, praising the aircraft for its “invisible” stealth characteristics, which means it is difficult to detect on enemy radar.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Donald Trump (L) talks to Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Marillyn Hewson (R) and Director and Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman (2nd L) in front of an F-35 fighter jet during the 2018 Made in America Product Showcase July 23, 2018 at the White House in Washington, DC. The White House held the showcase to "celebrates every state's effort and commitment to American-made products, and will allow these companies to speak with senior Administration officials, including the President, the Vice President, members of the Cabinet, and senior staff." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) talks to Chairman, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin Marillyn Hewson (R) and Director and Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman (2nd L) in front of an F-35 fighter jet during the 2018 Made in America Product Showcase July 23, 2018 at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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