An overseas training deployment has been part of the Air Force’s plan since the F-35A was declared combat capable last year
As explained by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa Public Affairs, in the article 5th-generation fighter in Europe, eight F-35A Lightning IIs, are deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, for the aircraft’s first overseas training deployment to Europe. The F-35As belong to the 34th Fighter Squadron, 388th Fighter Wing and the Air Force Reserve’s 466th Fighter Squadron, 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, and will conduct air training over the next weeks with other Europe-based aircraft in support of the European Reassurance Initiative.
Noteworthy as we have already reported, an overseas training deployment has been part of the Air Force’s plan since the F-35A was declared combat capable last year, as part of the natural progression of the F-35 program.
In fact 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 (AMC) 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 U.S. to Europe. Additionally, C-17 and C-5 aircraft moved airlift support, moving maintenance equipment and personnel.
Photo credit: U.S. Air Force
Additional source: F-35 deploys to Europe for the first time, Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa