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US Air Force first overseas F-35 Lightning II ‘Valkyries’ Squadron

The US Air Force named its first overseas-based F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter squadron the ‘Valkyries’. The US Air Force official website reported. 

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Public Opinion for F-35 Lightning II:

The 48th Fighter Wing seeks help from the public to name the UK-based F-35A Lightning-ll unit. The 495th Fighting Squadron (FS) was given the title ‘Valkyries’ after the public opinion polls which also includes other names Archangels, Sabres, Sentinels, and Swordsmen. 

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The 48th Fighter Wing at UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath made the announcement about the new title on 16th February. The 495th Squadron, which is a part of the 48th Fighter Wing has also been given the motto in Latin ‘Mala Ipsa Nova’ means ‘Bad News Itself’. According to Janes

First overseas USAF F-35A unit official base:

“Valkyries’ epitomizes the force’s move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter’s air superiority,” Lt. Col. Ian McLaughlin (the incoming 495th FS commander) said in a statement. “I am honored to be the first commander of the initial U.S. Air Force overseas-based F-35A unit. Like the Valkyries themselves, we will be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace.” 

The Lakenheath base currently has the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s only F-15 Fighter Wing, which flies both Eagle and Strike Eagle models. According to the Military.com

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The F-35As will arrive at the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath base towards the end of 2021. A second squadron at the base will be announced in due course. 

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“The base was selected to host the first U.S. F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the RAF, existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities.” The United States Air Force said. “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.” 

Having declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for its conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) variant F-35 A in August 2016, the United States Air Force (USAF) is now increasing its aircraft numbers and basing locations. The USAF plans to deliver 1763 F-35As over the life of the program. The Janes news reported. 

Also note that the F-35 as the $1.5 trillion project, is the most expensive fighter jet program in US history. 

“The US is going to have about 50 jets here,” Lt. Col. Derek Syswerda (Director of Staff for the 48th Fighter Wing) said in an interview with Military.com. He further said that bringing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) to the continent will amplify the work done with joint partners in the region. 

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“The amount of support we received, and continue to receive, from the community both here and back home has been overwhelming and highly appreciated,” Col. Jason Camilletti (48th Fighter Wing commander). “Basing F-35s at RAF Lakenheath will be a game-changer as it will allow us to further advance interoperability with our European teammates, and is a visible demonstration that we and all of NATO will continue to own the skies.” 

Last month, Lockheed Martin and F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) signed the Lightning  Air System National Availability Enterprise (LANSE) contract to support the UK’s Lightning fleet. According to Army-Technology

Analysis:

The United States is actively expanding its overseas bases and its presence in Europe and Asia.

The induction of F-35 Lightning II into the Lakenheath RAF base in Europe will further enhance the capabilities of the US Air Force and will help them to keep their eye on adversaries more closely. And also to respond more quickly with the 5th generation fighter jet if needed.

Sources:

  1. Military.com
  2. US Air Force Official Website
  3. Janes
  4. Airforce-Technology

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