For the first time, the U.S. Air Force used two F-35A fighter jets to conduct an airstrike. The mission saw the first time that the F-35A saw combat. The jets dropped a Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) bomb on an Islamic State in Iraq target. 

According to the U.S. Central Command, the airstrike targeted an ISIS tunnel network and weapons cache in the Humrin Mountains in northeast Iraq. JDAMs are bombs that come equipped with GPS systems. When the pilot inputs the target's GPS coordinates, the bomb steers to the target by itself. 

The F-35A was designed to replace the F-16 Fighting Falcon jets and the A-10 Tunderbolt, Popular Mechanics reported. The F-35A is the only USAF jet to come with an internal cannon. However, this feature was reportedly not used in the recent airstrike. 

"This jet is smarter, a lot smarter, and so it can do more, and it helps you out more when loading munitions,” Staff Sgt. Karl Tesch, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons technician, said in a statement.

F-35A A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II taxis down the flightline before taking off from Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, April 24, 2019. Photo: U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Chris Drzazgowski

“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. 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," Lt. Col. Yosef Morris, 4th Fighter Squadron commander and F-35A pilot, said. 

Around six F-35s were transported from the Hill Air Force Base in Utah to the Al Dhafra air base in the UAE on April 12, 2019, National Interest reported. It is still unclear why such sophisticated aircrafts, which are designed to infiltrate advanced Russian and Chinese air defense systems, were used for the airstrike against an ISIS cave. According to reports, ISIS is believed to have very few or no anti-aircraft missiles. Till date, ISIS has not shot down any aircraft.