This training deployment validated and refined the bed-down procedures of the fifth generation, multi-role fighter aircraft in England for the arrival of the first permanent F-35As at RAF Lakenheath in 2021
The U.S. Air Force announced that the eight F-35As from the 34th Fighter Squadron, along with supporting units and equipment from Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, deployed to Europe for training have left Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath, England, May 7.
As told by Senior Airman Malcolm Mayfield, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, in the article F-35 complete first European training deployment, the squadron flew 76 sorties and tallied more than 154 flying hours alongside F-15s from the 48th Fighter Wing, while at RAF Lakenheath.
“This exercise provided our pilots with the opportunity to practice working together to solve complex tactical scenarios using integrated operations that optimized both the F-35 and F-15’s capabilities,” explained Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, the 493rd Fighter Squadron commander. “We found that by working together, we can achieve a higher level of performance than either aircraft can achieve alone.”
Noteworthy during their stay in Europe the aircraft forward deployed to Estonia and Bulgaria to maximize training opportunities, build partnerships with allied air forces and familiarize Airmen with Europe’s broad and diverse operating conditions.
“This deployment was a great opportunity for the 34th (FS) and the 48th (FW) to practice 4th and 5th generation fighter integration tactics,” Zumwalt said. “It was an honor to host the 34th (FS) at RAF Lakenheath, where we were able to integrate our operations in a shared workspace.”
This training deployment highlighted the complementary capabilities of these different aircraft. But what’s more important, it assisted in validating and refining the bed-down procedures of the fifth generation, multi-role fighter aircraft in England: RAF Lakenheath in fact is scheduled to receive its first permanent F-35A Lightning IIs in 2021.
Photo credit: Master Sgt. Eric Burks and Airman 1st Class John A. Crawford / U.S. Air Force