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December 17, 2021

RAF Lakenheath receives first US F-35A Lightning II fighter jet

The fighter plane is the first out of 24 due to be delivered.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath in Brandon has accepted delivery of the first of its new F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft on 16 December.

The high-performance, multi-role fighter jet will belong to the 495th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed ‘Valkyries’.  It is the first of 24 aircraft due to be delivered in a phased manner.

According to a press statement released by the US Air Force (USAF), Lakenheath is the first base of USAF in Europe to receive the fifth-generation jets.

US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Commander-General Jeff Harrigian said: “Our coalition forces train and fight in the most dynamic theatre, requiring the most advanced platforms.

“The Valkyries are leading our F-35 integration across Europe. We’ve come a long way, and now we’re extending our reach as a coalition force and what we will accomplish together.”

In 2015, RAF Lakenheath was chosen to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe.

According to USAF, the UK plays a major role in training and combat readiness for the service in Europe.

495th FS Commander Lieutenant Colonel Ian McLaughlin said: “‘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.”

Owned by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), RAF Lakenheath is leased to US Air Force.

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