United States Air Force F-35s arrived in the United Kingdom today, marking the types first deployment to Europe.
The F-35As are from Hill Air Force Base, Utah and will conduct air training over the next several weeks with other Europe-based aircraft in support of the ‘European Reassurance Initiative’.
US Air Forces in Europe, Air Forces Africa commander said:
“This is an incredible opportunity for USAFE 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.
RAF Lakenheath will be the first overseas beddown location for the F-35A, this deployment allows our pilots and maintainers to learn more about the European operating environment and will improve our interoperability with partners in the region.”
As part of the training deployment, the aircraft will forward deploy to NATO nations to “maximize training opportunities, build partnerships with allied air forces and gain a broad familiarity of Europe’s diverse operating conditions.”
The transatlantic flight for the training deployment was supported by the US Air Mobility Command and the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall.
Multiple aircraft from four different bases offloaded more than 400,000 pounds of fuel during the “tanker bridge” from the United States to Europe.
Additionally, C-17 and C-5 aircraft moved airlift support, moving maintenance equipment and personnel.