Taken on Jan. 5, 2021 by our friend Dafydd Phillips, the cool video in this post shows the first of the new 495th Fighter Squadron F-35A Lightning II strike fighters from RAF Lakenheath hitting the Mach Loop along with some F-15E Strike Eagles from Seymour Johnson.
‘What a treat we had! In the worst of weather in Snowdonia. There came a break in the clouds just in time for the Very first F-35s from the 495th Fighter Squadron ‘Valkyries’ from RAF Lakenheath to hit the low fly in the Mach Loop. To top it off, shortly after we had some visitors from Seymour Johnson in their F-15E strike eagles,’ Phillips says.
As already explained, the 495th Fighter Squadron was nicknamed the “Valkyries” during a voting contest in 2020 and the new F-35 squadron will consist of 24 aircraft, delivered in a phased approach.
RAF Lakenheath was selected in 2015 to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the RAF, existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities. The UK 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-15Es from Seymour Johnson AFB (NC) instead belong to the 4th Fighter Wing and are part of the fifteen Strike Eagles that arrived at RAF Lakenheath on Oct. 4, 2021 for a deployment in the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) area of operations.
The Mach Loop (also known as the Machynlleth Loop) consists of a series of valleys in the UK in west-central Wales, which are famous for their use as low-level training areas for fast jet aircraft. The system of valleys lies 8 miles east of Barmouth and is nestled between the towns of Dolgellau to the north and Machynlleth to the south, from the latter of which it takes its name.
The training area is within LFA7, which covers most of Wales. Aircraft which use (and which have used in recent years) this training area include Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus A400M, Tornado, Typhoon, Hawk jets and C-130J cargo aircraft as well as USAF F-15C Eagles, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-22 Raptors, and F-35A Lightning IIs.
Photo credit: Dafydd Phillips
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