THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
The 48th Fighter Wing has selected a new nickname for the first U.S. Air Force overseas-based F-35A squadron. The wing solicited help from the public to name the unit. 700 different suggestions were originally submitted in the fall of 2020, and narrowed down to five finalists. In December, the 48th FW received thousands of votes from opinion polls, and the Liberty Wing is excited to announce that the 495th Fighter Squadron will be called the “Valkyries”, besting four other choices – Archangels, Sabres, Sentinels, and Swordsmen.
In Norse mythology, Valkyries are female figures who choose those that will live, or die, in battle. RAF Lakenheath is in the East of England, an area with extensive Viking and Norse history. Additionally, the 495th Fighter Squadron motto: “Mala Ipsa Nova” in Latin, means “Bad News Itself”. Both factors emphasize “Valkyries” as an extremely suitable nickname for the UK-based unit.
“‘Valkyries’ epitomizes the force’s move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter’s air superiority,” said Lt. Col. Ian McLaughlin, the incoming 495 FS commander. “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’ll be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace.”
The first F-35As are scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath in late 2021. The base was selected to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the RAF, existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities. The U.K. is a critical component in training and combat readiness for Air Forces in Europe due to its excellent airspace and F-35 program partnership.
“The amount of support we received, and continue to receive, from the community both here and back home has been overwhelming and highly appreciated,” said 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.”
The Valkyries will have about 24 aircraft and 50 personnel, with another 600 or so associated with its aircraft maintenance unit, base officials said. Lakenheath is expected to eventually host two F-35 squadrons.