The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command gave not long ago an example of how ACE should work, so that we can all understand:
“Somewhere above the vast Pacific Ocean, a fighter aircraft has flown for hours, and its fuel supply is running low. Unable to return to its home station for fuel, that's when Agile Combat Employment (ACE) comes into play. Down below on a small island, three Airmen are waiting to refuel the aircraft and rapidly launch it back into the fight.”
Not sure if that explanation worked, but that essentially means a large number of bases can be used to help air forces conduct sorties. This, in turn, not only helps friendly forces, but also makes it harder for the enemy to strike a specific base, given how military units could always move operations from place to place.
It was exactly such an ACE scenario that was practiced at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska in mid-July. And it was there where the pic (click main photo to enlarge) showing a mighty F-35A Lightning II flying over a clear blue sky was taken.
This particular F-35 is deployed with the 354th Fighter Wing, the host unit at Eielson. Like all others of its kind, it’s an impressive metal beast, capable of incredible feats during combat – at least on paper, that is, as the plane was barely used in action since it first saw battle in 2018.
Packing a Pratt & Whitney engine, the plane can fly at speeds of Mach 1.6 and at altitudes of 50,000 ft (15,000 m). It can also deliver its deadly cargo of missiles and bombs to over 1,700 miles (2,800 km), the distance it can cover without refueling.
To date, there are close to 700 F-35s in different configurations serving the needs of about ten countries around the world.