USAFE and European Partners Seek Common Ground In Integrating F-35 (excerpt)
(Source: Stars and Stripes; published July 21, 2017)
By Jennifer H. Svan
USAFE commander Gen. Tod Wolters opens an F-35 forum at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, attended by experts and stakeholders from Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom. (USAFE photo)
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --- The U.S. Air Force has yet to stand up a squadron of F-35s in Europe, but it’s already working on how to integrate the fifth-generation combat jet with some of its closest allies in the region.
U.S. Air Forces in Europe this week brought together about 50 senior military fliers and planners from eight nations, all with a stake in the newest and most expensive fighter aircraft on the block.
The two-day forum on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter served to promote cooperation among the U.S. and its European counterparts that are already flying the plane or plan to do so. The goal was to share lessons learned and build common approaches that will support integrated flying operations in Europe in the future.
“We have to find a way to nest it all together,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, USAFE and Air Forces Africa commander.
“At the end of the day, if we can say this is something that we’re fusing into the system … we’re in a great place,” he told the group, which included fighter pilots, base commanders and chiefs of staff. The Army, NATO and the Marine Corps also sent representatives, as did Lockheed Martin, the F-35 Lightning II manufacturer.
The forum, which concluded late Thursday, was the first of its kind in Europe, officials said. It followed a similar conference held in March in the Pacific, where Japan, South Korea and Australia have all purchased the F-35.
Joining the U.S. at the European forum were Israel, Italy, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Turkey. Those nations have all purchased the aircraft. Israel and Italy are the first to be flying the plane in the region. (end of excerpt)
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Eight Nations Set Stage for F-35 in Europe
(Source: US Air Force Europe; issued July 20, 2017)
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --- More than 50 senior leaders from the European theater participated in an F-35 leadership forum held at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, July 19-20.
The assembly of experts and stakeholders aimed to provide a common vision among F-35 platform users on future force projection, theater integration and interoperability.
“We’ve come together as a team of allies and partners to begin to set the conditions on bringing the F-35 into the European theater and operating the F-35 in the European theater,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Fay, U.S. Air Forces in Europe deputy commander, and official host of the leadership forum. “This is a really exciting time to be an Airman in the European theater. Bringing the F-35 into this theater will really change the way we do business here in a way we haven’t seen in decades.”
The forum hosted ally and partner nations from Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
“For us, it was very important to be a part of the meeting here, and we are looking forward to continuing this kind of operational approach to the F-35,” said Maj. Gen. Aurelio Colagrande, Italian Air Command chief of staff. He also added that Italy was the first nation to fly the 5th generation fighter overseas and currently has three F-35s in country.
Attendees of the forum additionally received a program update from Lockheed-Martin representatives and an opportunity to engage with an F-35 simulator.
“It’s a power tool. It’s a force multiplier. It’s a game changer for missile defense. It does things we’ve never seen before,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, USAFE commander. He elaborated that the success of the F-35 in Europe depends on leaders at the forum to identify the interoperability baseline and codify common tactics, techniques and procedures.
“At the end of the day, if we can say that this is something we’re fusing into the system that guarantees the sovereignty of the skies overhead our NATO nations and our great partners, then we’re in a great place.”
Discussions on F-35 interoperability will continue with an upcoming multilateral symposium planned for October 2017, which will involve expanded discussions on operations, maintenance, logistics and intelligence.