First Time in the History of Lithuania, F-35A Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft Landed at Šiauliai
(Source: Lithuania Ministry of Defence; issued July 18, 2019)
US Air Force F-35A fighters from Hill Air Force Base have flown to Lithuania (pictured) and to the Royal Air Force base at Marham for exercises and training during their summer deployment to Europe. (Lithuania MoD photo)
On July 18, F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft of the United States landed at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Šiauliai. They joined the F-15E fighters and C-130 mobility aircraft that arrived in Lithuania earlier to take part in the air defence Operation Rapid Forge for the first time held in our region.

“I am happy and proud that soldiers of the Lithuanian Air Force are doing their part of the work in the exercise professionally. They have shown their ability to deconflict and assign airspace, control the most cutting-edge aircraft, carry out land-based air defence and to render Host Nation Support properly,” Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force Col Dainius Guzas said.

The F-35A carried out refuelling at the Šiauliai Airbase from where the 5th generation aircraft took off to train air-to-air battle in the Lithuanian airspace while receiving tactical air control from the Combined Control and Reporting Centre Karmėlava. Land-based air defence was ensured by the Air Defence Battalion of the Lithuanian Air Force.

On July 23 and July 25 U.S. fighter aircraft are planned to conduct air support training in the Lithuanian airspace and destroy ground-based targets in Kazlų Rūda Training Area. Lithuanian and U.S. special forces’ and other services’ soldiers will direct air support strikes towards ground-based targets and ensure integration.

Lithuania will commit almost half of its airspace at agreed hours during two days of training. Offering sufficient space provides appealing conditions for organising allied exercises and it will allow to use full potential of the cutting-edge aircraft while training in the specific conditions of the Baltic region. Deconfliction of airspace at agreed hours will not disrupt civilian aviation and will not prevent any scheduled flights.


US Air Force F-35A Lightnings Visit RAF Marham for Joint Training
(Source: Royal Air Force; issued July 18, 2019)
A pair of US Air Force F-35A Lightning fighter jets have visited RAF Marham to allow RAF, Royal Navy and USAF ground crew to conduct joint training.

Usually based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the 421st Fighter Squadron, Black Widows, are currently deployed to Germany. This was the first time the A model of the F-35 had landed at Marham, the permanent home of the UK fleet of B model Lightnings.

Ahead of the arrival of the American aircraft a team of maintainers from the 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit had arrived at the Norfolk station to work with Marham’s Visiting Aircraft Servicing Section, led by Master Sergeant Tyler Berry who said:

Hot refuelling sees aircraft refuelled with engines running, a process aimed at keeping aircraft on the ground for the shortest time possible. USAF maintainers refuelled one aircraft shadowed by RAF personnel before swapping places for the second Lightning.

Wing Commander Colin Feeney, OC Engineering Wing, RAF Marham said: “This breaks the ice for interoperability ahead of RAF Lakenheath receiving its first F-35As in the coming years. Keeping the links between neighbours strong is highly important for when we’ll both operate 5th Gen air systems.”

Colonel Mark Ciero of USAF Europe was also on hand to observe the training. He said: “This is the first great step toward full maintenance interoperability. It’s a good day for the USAF and RAF as we experience our first integrated hot pit refuelling with our newest and most capable fighter aircraft.

“The proximity of RAF Marham and RAF Lakenheath and the future of our mutual 5th Generation capability demonstrates our two nations shared approach to the defence of Europe.”


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