F-35A Deployment Brings Advanced Airpower Capability to Europe
(Source: US Air Force; issued April 17, 2017)
The US Air Force says a number of F-35s self-deployed to Britain on April 15, crossing the Atlantic in a non-stop flight from Hill AFB, in Utah, to RAF Lakenheath, in East Anglia.
LANGLEY, Va. --- This weekend’s deployment of an initial six F-35A Lightning II fighters and several hundred Airmen to Europe demonstrates the aircraft’s readiness to conduct operations with America’s European partners, according to Air Force leaders.

The April 15, 2017, arrival at Royal Air Force Base Lakenheath, England, marks the first major overseas training deployment for the aircraft and begins several weeks of training for F-35 pilots, maintainers and support personnel with allied and partner nations.

“Our Air Force delivers a broad range of combat airpower advantages to our partners,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, the commander of Air Combat Command, the major command responsible for organizing, training and equipping the F-35A fleet. “Thanks to our world-class Airmen, the F-35 is now part of the mix we bring to strengthening those partnerships and improving regional security.”

The leaders of the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the Air Force’s first operational F-35A unit, echoed those sentiments, expressing their excitement about the mission and admiration for the Airmen who made it happen.

“As the first operational F-35 unit in the Air Force, our Airmen have been working tirelessly—from the achievement of initial operational capability to our deployment to Red Flag,” said Col. David Lyons, the 388th Fighter Wing commander. “We continue to prove the unique capabilities of this revolutionary aircraft, and this first overseas deployment is a natural step in the program.

“A large part of ensuring air dominance in the future will involve integrating operations between platforms and across all coalition partners,” Lyons continued. “The F-35A is on the leading edge of that interoperability. We're excited to demonstrate those capabilities as well as our commitment to our European allies and partners.”

Col. Michael Miles, the 388th Maintenance Group commander, noted that “any time we get a chance to mobilize and deploy, it sharpens our skills,” adding that it was an exciting to be a part of the F-35A program.

“The culmination of the combined efforts of the entire F-35 community have brought this to fruition,” Miles said. “I am extremely proud of all our Airmen, and I know they are honored to be a part of this important operational milestone."

During the deployment, Hill Airmen will train in the U.K. and deploy to NATO states in Europe, providing an opportunity for the combat-ready aircraft to perform alongside allies and other types of Air Force aircraft in a realistic training environment.

“The Lightning’s European deployment is another great opportunity to exercise the capabilities of this aircraft and conduct valuable training alongside our allies,” Holmes said. “As we’ve proven with the F-22 Raptor and routinely with our fourth-generation fleet, our strength is the ability to project our power globally and rapidly.”

The F-35A is the latest addition to ACC’s deployable fifth-generation fleet. The aircraft offers air superiority, interdiction, suppression of enemy air defenses and close air support capabilities, as well as advanced tactical command and control functions through the use of fused sensors, which provide pilots with unprecedented situational awareness of the battlespace.


(EDITOR’S NOTE: Announced late on Good Friday, the first deployment of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Europe was completed by the following day, according to US officials.
Few other details have yet been released about this ferry flight, and even the number of aircraft has not been released. It varies from four to eight aircraft, according to the source, and a spokesman for the US Air Forces in Europe said in an April 15 e-mail that “We will release that number as soon as we can without jeopardizing the safety and security of these operations.”
“The aircraft left Hill Air Force Base, Utah, at various times on the night of April 14,” the spokesman said, and arrived at Lakenheath sometime on April 15.
“The aircraft were staggered, and it was a non-stop flight.,” but said he did not yet have the number of flight hours.
“Multiple air refueling aircraft from four different bases offloaded more than 400,000 pounds of fuel during the "tanker bridge" from the United States to Europe,” the spokesman said.
“Additionally, C-17 and C-5 aircraft moved airlift support, moving maintenance equipment and approximately 250 airmen.”
We have reproduced here the main statements issued since April 14 about this deployment.)


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F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft Arrive in Europe
(Source: US European Command; issued April 16, 2017)
STUTTGART, Germany --- Combat-ready F-35A Lightning II multi-role fighter aircraft arrived April 15, 2017, at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, demonstrating U.S. commitment to NATO allies and European territorial integrity.

“The forward presence of F-35s support my priority of having ready and postured forces here in Europe,” said Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the U.S. European Command commander and NATO’s supreme allied commander for 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-based allies.

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.

Fifth-Generation Fighter

“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,” said Air Force Gen. Tod D. Wolters, commander of USAFE and Air Forces Africa. “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.

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 Air Mobility Command. Multiple refueling aircraft from four different bases provided more than 400,000 pounds of fuel during the “tanker bridge” from the U.S. to Europe. Additionally, C-17 Globemaster III and C-5 Galaxy aircraft transported maintenance equipment and personnel to England.

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F-35 Deploys to Europe for the First Time
(Source: Air Combat Command; issued April 15, 2017)
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --- F-35A Lightning IIs, Airmen and accompanying equipment arrived at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, today, marking the aircraft’s first overseas training deployment to Europe.

The F-35As are from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing, 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.

“This is an incredible opportunity for USAFE Airmen and our NATO allies to host this first overseas training deployment of the F-35A aircraft,” said Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Forces Africa commander. “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.

As part of the natural progression of the F-35 program, an overseas training deployment has been part of the Air Force’s plan since the F-35A was declared combat capable last year.

“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” Wolters added.

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 introduction of the premier fifth-generation fighter to the European area of responsibility brings with it state-of-the-arts sensors, interoperability, and a broad array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions that will help maintain the fundamental sovereignty rights of all nations.

The transatlantic flight for this training deployment was supported by Air Mobility Command and the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England. Multiple air refueling 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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F-35 Deploys to Europe for the First Time
(Source: US Air Forces in Europe; issued April 15, 2017)
RAMSTEIN, Germany --- F-35A Lightning IIs, Airmen and accompanying equipment arrived at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, today, marking the aircraft’s first overseas training deployment to Europe.

The F-35As are from the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing, 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.

“This is an incredible opportunity for USAFE Airmen and our NATO allies to host this first overseas training deployment of the F-35A aircraft,” said Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Forces Africa commander. “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.

As part of the natural progression of the F-35 program, an overseas training deployment has been part of the Air Force’s plan since the F-35A was declared combat capable last year.

“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” Wolters added.

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 introduction of the premier fifth-generation fighter to the European area of responsibility brings with it state-of-the-arts sensors, interoperability, and a broad array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions that will help maintain the fundamental sovereignty rights of all nations.

The transatlantic flight for this training deployment was supported by Air Mobility Command and the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England. Multiple air refueling 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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Air Force Will Deploy F-35A Fighters to Europe for Training
(Source: US Department of Defense; issued April 14, 2017)
WASHINGTON --- The Air Force will deploy a small number of F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft this weekend on a long-planned training deployment to Europe, Pentagon officials announced today.

The aircraft are scheduled to conduct training with other U.S. and NATO aircraft based in Europe for several weeks as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.

This training deployment signifies an important milestone and natural progression of the F-35 program, officials said, and will allow the Air Force to further demonstrate the operational capabilities of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft. It also assists in refining requirements for eventually basing the F-35A in Europe, which is scheduled to receive the aircraft in the early 2020s.

In a statement announcing the deployment, officials said the F-35A provides unprecedented global precision attack capability against current and emerging threats, while complementing the Air Force's air superiority fleet. "The F-35A is a multi-role precision attack fighter with unmatched lethality, survivability, and interoperability," the statement said.

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