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US Navy's version of F-35 jet 'ready for combat'

[WASHINGTON] The US Navy's version of the F-35 stealth fighter jet is "ready for combat," officials said Thursday, marking another milestone in the development of the most expensive weapons programme ever.

"The F-35C is ready for operations, ready for combat and ready to win," Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller, who commands Naval Air Forces, said in a statement.

"We are adding an incredible weapon system into the arsenal of our Carrier Strike Groups that significantly enhances the capability of the joint force."

The F-35 "C" variant has been developed for the Navy and is capable of taking off and landing from an aircraft carrier.

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Its wingtips can fold up to create more room on the huge ships.

In August 2017, the Air Force announced initial operational capability for their version, the F-35A.

The F-35B, used by the Marine Corps, is capable of short take-offs and vertical landings, and flew its first combat missions last year over Afghanistan.

Launched in the early 1990s, the F-35 programme is considered the most expensive weapons system in US history, with an estimated cost of some US$400 billion and a goal to produce 2,500 aircraft in the coming years.