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.

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Great news, cant help thinking though that the UK has missed an opportunity to take over RAF mildenhall and turn it into a super base for the area.

Peter Crisp

I think the chance to have such a large chunk of land where there it should be easy to get planning permission for much needed housing and the other stuff needed is more important at the moment. The MOD can also use the cash they get from selling the land to upgrade an existing base.


I think that big chunk of land would make a great super base and release a number of smaller bases for redevelopment instead and cost far less to bring up to spec (if any money actually as from my experience the US bases are great.

I believe it is a missed opportunity – but there you go.

Daniele Mandelli

Thing is, which bases would you close to put the assets at Mildenhall? So much has been cut or “Rationalised” there is not much needing housing! Coningsby already has the money spent on it for Typhoon. Marham like wise for the F35. Mildenhall has no HAS either. Brize and Waddington take our Transport and ISTAR assets. Maybe the “Better Estates” defence cut recently announced will make some units orphaned and in need of a home, which of course will need paying for. Funnily enough, I once felt the same about RAF Lyneham, wanting it to house one of our Brigades… Read more »


Big project starting to see results. Worrying sign of the times they are in the UK though but then these are exactly the sort of times they were made for!


How many were deployed?


Looks like the USAF are having second thoughts about Mildenhall. Just seen this on Forces TV:



Fingers crossed!


Saw them flying today after a long journey. From the ground the F35 looks and sounds very impressive, especially when compared with their flying mates the F15’s. Deploying the F35 at this time makes consummate sense, in the face of increased tensions between East & West. In the distance from the Lakenheath airfield, many planes were taking off and landing from Mildenhall, and I could not figure why the US Defence Department would want to close this base? Only recently the base was upgraded, with a new runway resurface and installation of significant security gate improvements. The UK is a… Read more »

Mr Bell

At this current time of increased tension with Russia and the extreme military weakness of the EU (include the UK in that sentiment unfortunately) I would think it makes strategic sense to retain mildenhall base for us air force. The f35A variant is interesting as slightly cheaper than B variant and has longer combat radius 800vs 400 miles. would love to see RAF operate a mixed fleet of 50-60 A variants and circa 60-70 B variants. With the fleet airarm having 3 squadrons of B variant (3×12 jet squadrons) this would provide the fleet air arm with a baseline of… Read more »