The arrival of the American F-35 marks RAF Lakenheath as the first U.S Air Force base in Europe to receive the aircraft.

According to this news release, RAF Lakenheath was selected in 2015 to host the first United States F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the RAF, existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities.

“The U.K. is a critical component in training and combat readiness for Air Forces in Europe due to its excellent airspace and F-35 program partnership. The F-35A is an agile, versatile, high-performance, 9g-capable multirole fighter that combines stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness. The aircraft will belong to the 495th Fighter Squadron, which was nicknamed the ‘Valkyries’ during a voting contest in 2020.  The new F-35 squadron will consist of 24 aircraft, delivered in a phased approach.”

Lieutenant Colonel McLaughlin, 495th Fighter Squadron Commander, was quoted as saying:

“‘Valkyries’ epitomises the force’s move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter’s air superiority.  Like the Valkyries themselves, we’ll be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace.”

General Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Forces Africa Commander, also said:

“Our coalition forces train and fight in the most dynamic theatre, requiring the most advanced platforms.  The Valkyries are leading our F-35 integration across Europe.  We’ve come a long way, and now we’re extending our reach as a coalition force and what we will accomplish together.”

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago

Is the USAF F35 nuclear capable?

eclipse
eclipse
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Yes. It is approved or almost approved to carry the B61-12 nuclear bomb.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

It will be if not already, One reason it may end up in the German airforce Orbat.

Jacko
Jacko
3 months ago

Plenty of videos on YouTube of them arriving if you are interested

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

A few interesting developments taking place at the moment. I wonder when we can expect to see these being added to the A and C models?

“General Electric (GE) has ended Phase 1 testing on its second XA100 adaptive cycle engine that it is developing as part of the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP).”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/defence/latest/general-electric-concludes-phase-1-testing-of-second-xa100-engine

“BAE Systems has been contracted to upgrade the electronic warfare (EW) system of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), the company announced on 15 December.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/air-platforms/latest/bae-systems-to-upgrade-electronic-warfare-system-for-block-4-f-35

Last edited 3 months ago by Nigel Collins
John Clark
John Clark
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I think the new engine will be part of the key technology that will lead to F35 block 5 or 6 in 2030, as LM attempt to keep pace with Tempest and other Gen6 offerings…

If they can offer the right level of updated tech and critically the right price point, they will probably keep sales going strongly right into the late 2030’s..

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

GE’s XA100 engine is one of two contenders to power the USAF’s NGAD fighter. It is in competition with P&W’s XA101 engine. The US Congress wants to field which ever engine is selected to also power the F-35 Block 4 which goes into production in 2023. But, one problem, the cost, which may be prohibitive. The new engines are reported to increase range by 25-30% and provide about 20% more acceleration.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago

How about leasing a few A’s for the RAF so that they can train up on I suspect what is their preferred model which will release the B’s for the RN. We need to give the carriers some priority and we can’t do that with 7 or 8 airframes split between two carriers.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

It’s a joint F35 Lightning Force. 50/50 manned between the RAF and RN. We are not buying the A variant.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

I know that Robert. I was just floating an idea. There have been a number of reports though, accurate or not that the RAF would prefer the A variant. Moving on, and if you will excuse the pun I keep getting shot down over my wish to speed things up and build a balanced force. I just do not understand how we are ever going to have two carriers potentially available if we only have four squadrons of ??? number (apparently it’s secret) to share between the RN and the RAF, the obvious connection I would have thought being that… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

I’ll try and keep this sensible Geoff..The Falklands was 40 years ago, technology and capability has come a very long way since then. The plan all along has been to have one carrier always available to deploy 365 a year, with the 2nd carrier in refit/maintenance or available. We have never intended to have two complete airwings available. We have to stop think about the RN or the RAF, with Lightning Force, they are one of the same. At some point in the future we will be able to deploy 36 F35’s. Be that 24 on one carrier and 12… Read more »

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

“sometime in the future”. When? I can’t help but think that if a frigate went to sea without a gun all hell would break loose on this blog. In fact there are constant references to the River class and how under armed they are. And yet when it comes to the carriers there seems to be no sense of urgency at all. We have two of the best carriers in the world with 7 or 8 aircraft between them and probably ten years to wait before 30 to 40 aircraft are available to them, to be shared by the RAF.… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

As I said. If the requirement is for land based F35 operations, then the force will deploy, be it a RN or RAF sqn, it doesn’t really matter. 48 aircraft are on order, more will follow, it doesn’t happen overnight. And we don’t have unlimited funds. Plus we have UCAV ‘s in development to further enhance the strike, AEW and A2A capability of the carriers. As a reference. And Global Britain isn’t about having larger Armed Force’s. We have always been a Global outlooking nation.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

If we buy a batch of A for the RAF that means less B. Which means less for the carriers Geoffrey.

Which is why I support an all B fleet. That is the way to a greater number for the carriers in my view.

With vastly greater funds I’d support some A of course.
But that’s not being provided by HMG so all B is in fact prioritising the carriers.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

I agree, in reality we need the entire F35 buy to be F35Bs as this gives the when linked with the carriers gives the greatest strategic mobility and reach. We have spent a good chunk capital on the two carriers that in theory could easily carry 4 squadrons each (maybe even 5). The carriers together could carry every F35 we are every likely to be operate at one time.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago

HI Daniele,

Might be easier, to save my fingers, if you checked out my reply to Robert. If it is true that the RAF would prefer the A variant I was thinking that a small number to train alongside the Americans would be a way forward, even if it meant temporarily using U.S. aircraft on loan, either here or in the U.S.

We need to prioritize something or we are going to end up with nothing being fully operational.

David Howard
David Howard
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

RAF numbers are not going to grow. So if we buy some A’s it will be at the expense of B’s. And to make the numbers worthwhile you might have to replace a couple of Typhoon squadrons. And seeing as the tranche 1’s have all but gone that means eating into tranche 2and 3 numbers.

So you end up with what is effectively 3 different types, even if As and Bs have a high degree of commonality, meaning 3 different logistic trains and three training programmes for both air and ground crews.

Meirion x
Meirion x
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

If you meant use F-35A’s for training Geoff? Actually the F-35B version would be better for training & OCU. The B version can still fly conventionally like the A version, but the A version cannot fly like the B when training to operate at sea.

Last edited 3 months ago by Meirion x
Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Hi Meirion. No. I was literally thinking of the idea of the A variant for the RAF. Can you have a look at my replies to Daniele and Robert please.

Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Without going into the A vs B vs C debate the fact is there are no F35 Trainer Aircraft,Flight Training is carried out in Simulators,so would it be reasonable to assume that a Simulator could enable Training to be carried out for all 3 variants,and therefore a Pilot would be Qualified to Fly a ‘B’ but put them in an ‘A’ and they could still be able to Fly it ?.

Phil Chadwick
Phil Chadwick
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

It’s still early days in the service of the F35 B. So it’s not going to be 7 or 8 airframes per carrier looking ahead, it will end up being 24 each and even up to 36, with up to 80 on order including the second batch.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago
Reply to  Phil Chadwick

The problem is that with a delivery rate of five or six a year and with the next batch not yet ordered it could easily be 2030 before we get to four squadrons of an unspecified, apparently secret, number. So I say again, how can we hope to achieve full capability when basic arithmetic makes it impossible to allow us to operate two carriers, each with an air wing and allow the RAF to operate a combined Lightning/Typhoon or Lightning/Drone strike force at the same time.?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Because we don’t have the requirement or intent to deploy both carriers at the same time with full airwings and deploy F35 land based. It will be one or the other, or maybe 24 F35’s on a single carrier, and 10-12 land based alongside Typhoon. The numbers may be more than that, because we don’t know yet the final number that will be ordered for a whole host of reasons. Drones will also compliment both F35 & Typhoon. Future warfare is changing fast. And it isn’t simply about aircraft numbers and sqns of the good old day’s.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

I thought part of the purpose of this blog was to argue for the best but maybe not. I actually argued some days ago, and before that some months ago for the idea of 50 to 60 F35’s to enable us to operate both carriers if we wanted to, each with 2 squadrons of 10 backed up drones for strike. I have consistently suggested that another possibility would be to look at the carriers carrying a littoral strike group. The problem as I see it is that there seems to be no sense of urgency. At best we’ll get the… Read more »

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

Everyone wants the best Geoff. But we have to keep a sense of reality about what we can afford and when. We are not going to get a massive increase in defence spending. And Argentina does pose a military threat. Carrier strike has achieved a huge amount. It is a very complicated business, that only a tiny number of countries can pull off.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
3 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

(Argentina does NOT pose a military threat is what I meant to say)

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago

Whoever is learning to fly the F35b needs as much practice as they can get. We just dropped one off the ski-jump into the drink. In waters a mile deep. Fortunately we got the guy who filmed it, he’s in the brig in irons. I expect the pilot has been keeping busy sweeping out the hangar

David Barry
David Barry
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

Not sure that had anything to do with flying skills and more to do with SOPs b4 take off and miseed appointments at specsavers.

Mark
Mark
3 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

No facts yet to implicate anyone. It could have blown off a parked aircraft and blown across deck and sucked in or it could easily have been anything the engine ingested or mechanical failure. By any account it’s an unblamable accident at this time. How would you like it if you got humiliated on social media constantly by people making assumptions based on no information. The deck crew and pilot are people who no doubt will be suffering mentally from this constant reminder of the incident by people not there let alone ship mates.

Richard Shaw
Richard Shaw
3 months ago

I have no doubt the aircraft are excellent pieces of machinery, unfortunately they are only as good as the operators. If my time in Vietnam is anything to go by, where a peasant with a stick was sufficient threat to American pilots to make them drop their payload (usually on their own or allied forces) and hit the afterburners for home, there will be more cases of premature ejaculation than target strikes. In any action over Europe there would be more devastation of European cities from American ‘friendly fire’ than anything an enemy could muster.

Tom
Tom
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Shaw

Pretty sure (I could be wrong) that modern bombs don’t arm immediately on jettison….The American pilots who died steering their aircraft away from population centers would disagree with you.

Luckily things have changed in 50 years.

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Shaw

The last time I looked, the Vietnamese peasants with sticks managed to defeat the US military after inflicting 56,000 casualties. The USA has always underestimated the enemy for racist reasons (they are “gooks” etc). The Sioux indians defeated the 7th Cavalry at Little Big Horn for much the same reasons. Come to think of it, the Sioux had repeating rifles – but the 7th Cavalry didn’t think they needed them, being that they were a superior species…..

Meirion x
Meirion x
3 months ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

An Outdated vision of the modern Western armed forces.

Meirion x
Meirion x
3 months ago
Reply to  Richard Shaw

You seem to have missed the Gulf
and Iraq War’s’ which demonstrated how accurate modern warpon systems are, compared to previous generations were. I’m not saying every single one fired was 100% accurate hit, but fairly close.

Last edited 3 months ago by Meirion x