First U.S. Air Force F-35A Fighter Jets Land at RAF Lakenheath

On December 15th, the first U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft arrived at their new home in UK. The Royal Air Force Lakenheath base welcomed the jets, becoming the first U.S. air force base in Europe to receive the latest fifth-generation fighter.
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II  lands on at RAF Lakenheath 6 photos
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Koby I. Saunders
A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II lands at RAF LakenheathU.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II conducts a flyover upon arrival at RAF LakenheathA U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II lowers landing gear upon arrival at RAF LakenheathU.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft conduct a flyover upon arrival at RAF LakenheathU.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II conducts a flyover upon arrival at RAF Lakenheath
The arrival of the fighter jets was first announced in 2015 when the Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath was selected to receive the first U.S. F-35A squadrons in Europe. The selection was based on combined training opportunities, very close ties with the RAF, and already existing infrastructure.

Moreover, because of its F-35 program partnership and "excellent airspace," UK represents a key component in combat readiness for air forces in Europe.

The F-35A Lightning II aircraft is an impressive jet. It's a versatile, 9g-capable multirole fighter that is packed with the latest tech, delivering unparalleled situational awareness. Powered by a Pratt and Whitney F135-PW-100 turbofan engine, this metal beast can fly at speeds that reach Mach 1.6 and cover distances of 1,700 miles (2,800 km).

The fighter jet can carry a payload that weighs as much as 18,000 lbs (8,160 kg), and when going into combat, it can be equipped with anything from a 4-barrel rotary cannon to missiles and bombs.

Upon landing on UK soil, the aircraft will head to the 495th Fighter Squadron, which is nicknamed the "Valkyries" and is part of the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath. The new squadron will consist of 24 F-35A Lightning II aircraft in total, which will be delivered in batches.

"Valkyries' epitomises the force's move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter's air superiority. Like the Valkyries themselves, we'll be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace," said 495th Fighter Squadron Commander Lieutenant Colonel Ian McLaughlin in a statement.

Currently, there are close to 700 F-35s in service around the world. They operate in different configurations that have similar avionics and performance characteristics.
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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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