The Pentagon has just announced the first deployment to Europe for the U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
The U.S. Air Force will deploy a “small number” of F-35A Lightning II aircraft this weekend on a long-planned training deployment to Europe.
Here’s the statement of the Department of Defense:
“The aircraft are scheduled to conduct training with other U.S. and NATO aircraft based in Europe for several weeks as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.
This training deployment signifies an important milestone and natural progression of the F-35 program, allowing the Air Force to further demonstrate the operational capabilities of the fifth generation fighter aircraft. It also assists in refining requirements for eventually basing the F-35A in Europe, which is scheduled to receive the aircraft in the early 2020s. Once the aircraft arrive in Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. European Command will release additional information as it becomes available about the F-35A’s training deployment.”
Where the aircraft are going to be based has not been unveiled yet. Whereas some sources believe it will be RAF Lakenheath, UK, others suggest it will be Spangdahlem, Germany.
The one about to start in the weekend will be the JSF’s first European deployment and the first overseas deployment for the U.S. Air Force F-35A. On Jan. 9, 2017, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 (VMFA-121), an F-35B squadron with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, departed MCAS (Marine Corps Air Station) Yuma, Arizona, for relocation to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, in what was the first deployment of the U.S. Joint Strike Fighter outside of CONUS (Continental US).