The F-35 Lightning II is ready to fight. Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, declared the fighter “combat ready” in an Aug. 2 statement at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. The aircraft now has enough trained airmen, and has demonstrated in tests the capability to conduct close-air support. Operational squadrons of 12 to 24 aircraft also interdiction, as well as limited suppression and destruction, of enemy air defenses, according to the Air Force. “The F-35A brings an unprecedented combination of lethality, survivability, and adaptability to joint and combined operations, and is ready to deploy and strike well-defended targets anywhere on earth,” Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, said. The Hill Air Force Base, Utah-based 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing, is the first F-35A operational unit.