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The first F-35A Litening II deployment to Europe
RAF Lakenheath
Suffolk
April 2017
The first operational F-35A Litening II deployment to Europe
Eight F-35As from the 34th Fighter Squadron 'Rude Rams', 388th Fighter Wing from Hill Air Force Base at Utah deploy to Europe for the first time and year since the F-35A was declared combat capable.
RAF Lakenheath stated that as part of the training deployment, the aircraft will forward deploy to NATO nations to maximize training opportunities, build partnerships with allied air forces and gain a broad familiarity of Europe’s diverse operating conditions. The introduction of the premier fifth-generation fighter to the European area of responsibility brings with it state-of-the-arts sensors, interoperability, and a broad array of advanced air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions that will help maintain the fundamental sovereignty rights of all nations.
The squadrons started the training deployment by flying simple missions and have progressed to more complex scenarios.“We’ve been flying basic fighter maneuvers and air combat maneuvers, as well as air to ground missions,” said Lt. Col. George Watkins, a F-35 pilot and the 34th Fighter Squadron commander. “We fight air to air to get to simulated ground targets and once we take them out, we fight air-to-air to get back to our designated ‘safe’ zone.”
The squadrons have also been flying against each other. F-15Cs are well known for being an air-dominance platform, and the F-35A pilots are enjoying the unique opportunity to fly against other Airmen in a foreign country in an airspace they’ve never before flown in with the F-35A.
F-35A Lightning II (12-5094 'HL') of 34 FS.
Left to right: F-35A Lightning II (12-5081 'HL', 12-5097 'HL' and 12-5094 'HL') of 34 FS.
Left to right: F-35A Lightning II (12-5098 'HL') of 34 FS.
F-35A Lightning II (12-5094 'HL') of 34 FS.
Left to right: F-35A Lightning II (12-5096 'HL') of 34 FS.
Left to right: F-35A Lightning II (12-5098 'HL' and 12-5081 'HL') of 34 FS.
F-35A Lightning II of 34 FS.
Left to right: F-35A Lightning II (12-5081 'HL') of 34 FS.
Left to right: F-35A Lightning II (12-5081 'HL' and 12-5097 'HL') of 34 FS.
Royal Norwegian Air Force General Dynamics F-16BM Fighting Falcon (693).
Left to right: Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16BM Fighting Falcon (693).
Left to right: Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16BM Fighting Falcon (693) and F-16AM Fighting Falcon (288).
Left to right: Typhoon T.3 (ZJ814 '814') of 29(R) Squadron
Left to right: Unmarked Typhoon FGR.4 (ZK373).

The F-15C Eagles of 493rd Fighter Squadron
F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron,
Left to right: F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron.
Left to right: F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron (black/yellow fin tip).
F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron.
Left to right: F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron.
F-15C Eagle (86-154 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron (black/yellow fin tip).

Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagles (91-312 'LN' and 91-324) of 492nd and 494th Fighter Squadron. F-15C Eagle (86-176 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagles (91-327 'LN') of 492nd. F-15C Eagle (84-001 'LN') of 493rd Fighter Squadron.
Left to right: F-15E Strike Eagles (97-222 'LN') and 01-2000 'LN') of 492nd and 494th Fighter Squadron.