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.”