THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Air Force activates first F-35A squadron in Europe
The Air Force has activated its first permanent, Europe-based F-35A Squadron at the Royal Air Force’s Lakenheath base in England, according to an announcement from the 48th Fighter Wing.
The Air Force estimates the squadron will include around 60 personnel and 27 aircraft. The first F-35A is scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath later this year. The squadron was previously deactivated in 1991.
The Air Force cited RAF Lakenheath’s infrastructure, airspace, and the existing partnership between the U.S. and the United Kingdom as prime motivators for the decision to host the squadron at the base. RAF Lakenheath currently serves as the Air Force’s only F-15 fighter wing in Europe and is the largest U.S. Air Force-operated base in England. It’s located about 70 miles northeast of London.
The 495th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed the “Valkyries” was reactivated on the 30th anniversary of its original designation as a fighter squadron.
Air Force bombers deploy to England for European training mission
On Oct. 6, 2021, two B-1B Lancers from the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, Dyess Air Forces Base, Texas, arrived at RAF Fairford, UK, for a long-planned Bomber Task Force mission “a regularly scheduled U.S. European Command and U.S. Strategic Command joint mission series.”
Flying as “REMUS01” flight, the BONEs (from B-Ones), #86-0110 and #86-0140, arrived in formation and performed a left overhead break for landing.
Since 2018, EUCOM has been conducting bomber task force missions, which consist of rotations of Lancers as well as B-52 Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirit stealth bombers.
B-1Bs deployed most recently to Europe in March along with B-2s, training with Norwegian and Swedish aircraft and marking the first time a B-1B had landed in the Arctic Circle.