UK base selected to host first U.S. F-35 jets in Europe

Jan 09 2015 - 23 Comments

RAF Lakenheath was selected as the first base to host USAFE F-35s.

The Pentagon has announced a large reorganization of U.S. Air Force units across Europe on Jan. 8.

As a consequence of the consolidation plan, 15 installations in the Old Continent will be closed: among them RAF Mildenhall, one of the busiest airfield in the UK, whose tankers and special operations planes will be moved to Germany. RC-135 Rivet Joint jets currently based there will remain in the UK.

Then, the Pentagon has plans to base two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath: the UK base, home of the 48th Fighter Wing equipped with F-15C and F-15E Strike Eagle jets, will be the first U.S. Air Force in Europe installation to host a unit flying the 5th Generation Joint Strike Fighter.

Each of the squadrons will receive 24 F-35s, totaling 48 aircraft assigned to RAF Lakenheath once full mission capability is achieved.

“Lakenheath is the perfect base for the perfect weapon system in the perfect country,” said Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander in press release published on the Air Force website. “From the beginning, the United States and the United Kingdom have been side-by-side on F-35 program development. This is about continuing to work together with our allies and partners to ensure a secure future for Europe.”

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

 

  • Fred Bastiat

    Can anyone explain why the US Taxpayer must pay for military bases and planes in Europe?

    • Vijay Mehra

      so we can have mutual cooperation when the time comes….unless we forget what happens when we let Europeans to them selves…russia is back btw.

      • Fred Bastiat

        You use we three times in your sentences. If I don’t want to be a part of that then I’m not the we, I’m just someone that you’re stealing from to use my money for violence I don’t want or that may not come in my lifetime.

  • Jupiter

    Will the USAF be supplying ear-plugs to the residents of Lakenheath, with what is a very loud and extremely noisy aircraft?

  • FlyingBarrister

    If the USAF can keep them airworthy, I suppose that we will see some good video in the months and years to come from tthe Mach Loop.

  • Jupiter

    Does this now mean the UK can reduce its future defence budget by billions of pounds, as the U.S. permanent presence of 48 USAF F-35’s means 48 less aircraft needed to be procured by the RAF to do the same job? (i.e multi-role fighters)

    • Cody3/75

      Sadly it seems so. The British government seems to be bandaging any bleed, no matter the size, with cuts to the armed forces. And that’s sad to see, coming from an outsider.

      • stig781

        Thankfully and quite obviously it would not seem so.

        • Cody3/75

          Are you kidding? You Brit’s have slashed your defense program a hundred different ways in the past ten to fifteen years…

          • Chris B

            Should have slashed the oversized helicopter carriers. (Or invested in catapults.)

            • Cody3/75

              At the end of the day, the F-35 will be fine. Will it still have been a disgustingly bloated project? Absolutely. Will it be the lame duck every idiot that knows nothing about the project thinks it will be? No, absolutely not. The UK with the F-35 and it’s new carriers will be an extremely potent asset.

  • Cody3/75

    Preach! A huge part of the anti-F-35 crowd is massively mis-informed.

  • Cody3/75

    Ill take the F-35 over the PAK FA. Not because I’m American but because i’m about as informed on both airframes as one could be that hasn’t been “read in” on their programs.

  • ODM

    I didn’t hear that they were removing the F-15s, as far as I am aware it is a supplemental assignment.

  • Vijay Mehra

    its garbage…the indians dont even want it now.

  • stig781

    “RC-135 Rivet Joint jets currently based there will remain in the UK.”

    There aren’t ANY US Rivet Joints based in the UK.

    “one of the busiest airfield in the UK,”

    It doesn’t come close compared to every single active RAF station.

    ” This is about continuing to work together with our allies and partners to ensure a secure future for Europe”

    No Robert, that is what the RAF is about. The US tenant units at RAF Lakenheath are there as part of NATO.

  • stig781

    No Jupiter, the UK has hosted the Typhoon FGR4 for several years now.

    You made it clear how clueless you are on aviation matters but this comment takes it to a whole new level. The T-50 as the “perfect weapon system”. Hilarious.

  • stig781

    Yes they are replaced the F-15s, that’s what happens.

    • Praetorianx

      I’m going to respectively disagree with you. They are adding 1200 men to
      RAF Lakenheath to support the F-35. The F-35 will fly along with the F-15
      C/D/E fighters as well as a HH-60G squadron already at Lakenheath. The Airforce is also Closing 15 bases in Europe consolidating assets with other bases

    • Praetorianx

      The Airforce will transferring RAF Mildenhall back to the UK,as well as closing RAF Alconbury, and RAF Molesworth.

      http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/us-dod-confirms-two-f-35-squadrons-will-be-based-in-407728/

  • Chris B

    The C/Ds are being replaced in the next decade. Maintenance gets mighty expensive at end of life.

    • Praetorianx

      I think your confused Chris, the F-15 C/D is not being replaced by the F-35A. The F-18 A+/C/D are being replaced by the F-35B, and the F-35C.

  • Another Guest (from Australia)

    The pigs reminds me of Lt. Gen Chris Bogden and Orlando Carvalho.