Washington, Sep 28 (AP) The stealthy F-35 fighter jet has conducted a combat airstrike for the first time, culminating years of development and anticipation for the aircraft’s move to the battlefield. Also Read - Despite Wife's Recovery From COVID-19, Justin Trudeau Says Will Continue to Stay in Self-Isolation

A Marine F-35B Lightning took off from the USS Essex amphibious assault ship and launched an airstrike Thursday against Taliban targets in Afghanistan. The aircraft is assigned to the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. Also Read - Coronavirus: Sophie Trudeau Recovers From Infection, Says ‘We’re All in This Together’

There are multiple versions of the F-35 for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. The supersonic Marine version, which is meant to replace the AV-8B Harrier, can take off over a short distance and land vertically, like a helicopter. Also Read - Canadian Olympic Committee Not to Send Athletes to Tokyo Olympics if The Event is Not Postponed

Each plane costs about USD 100 million.

The F-35 program has been criticized by members of the Congress over testing problems, delays and cost overruns. International buyers include Britain, South Korea, Israel, Italy, Australia, Canada, Turkey and Japan. The program was started in the late 1990s when the aircraft was known as the joint strike fighter. It completed its first flight in 2006. (AP) ABH

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.