USAF F-35A Lightning II, 34th Fighter Squadron, landing at RAF Lakenheath, 15 April 2017, by Sgt Matthew Plew (DVIDS) [800px]

US F-35As Touch Down At RAF Lakenheath

F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft Arrive in Europe

Combat-ready F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft arrived Saturday, April 15, at RAF Lakenheath, UK, demonstrating U.S. commitment to NATO allies and European territorial integrity.

US Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander for Europe, said:

The forward presence of F-35s support my priority of having ready and postured forces here in Europe. These aircraft, plus more importantly, the men and women who operate them, fortifies the capacity and capability of our NATO Alliance.

The aircraft are deployed from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and will train with European allies.

US Increasing Military Presence in Europe

This long-planned deployment continues to galvanize the U.S. commitment to security and stability throughout Europe. The aircraft and personnel will remain in Europe for several weeks. The F-35A will also forward deploy to maximize training opportunities, strengthen the NATO alliance and gain a broad familiarity of Europe’s diverse operating conditions.

First European Training Deployment of F-35A

US Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of USAFE and Air Forces Africa, said:

This is an incredible opportunity for [U.S. Air Forces in Europe] airmen and our NATO allies to host this first overseas training deployment of the F-35A aircraft. As we and our joint F-35 partners bring this aircraft into our inventories, it’s important that we train together to integrate into a seamless team capable of defending the sovereignty of allied nations.

Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft

The introduction of the premier fifth-generation fighter to Europe brings state-of-the-art sensors, interoperability and a vast array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions that will help maintain the fundamental territorial and air sovereignty rights of all nations. The fighter provides unprecedented precision-attack capability against current and emerging threats with unmatched lethality, survivability and interoperability.

The deployment was supported by the U.S. Air Force’s Air Mobility Command. Multiple refueling aircraft from four different bases provided more than 400,000 pounds of fuel during the “tanker bridge” from the United States to Europe. Additionally, C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy aircraft transported maintenance equipment and personnel to RAF Lakenheath.

Source: US Department of Defense

Photo: F-35A Lightning II’s from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, land at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017. The aircraft arrival marks the first F-35A fighter training deployment to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility or any overseas location as a flying training deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Matthew Plew)

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