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February 17, 2021

USAF’s first overseas F-35A squadron gets new name ‘Valkyries’

The US Air Force (USAF) has announced that its first overseas-based F-35A Lightning II fighter squadron will be named ‘Valkyries’.

The US Air Force (USAF) has announced that its first overseas-based F-35A Lightning II fighter squadron will be named ‘Valkyries’.

The name was selected by the 48th Fighter Wing from five choices, which also included Archangels, Sabres, Sentinels and Swordsmen.

Last year, the 48th Fighter Wing said that the 495th Fighter Squadron (FS) will be reactivated to support the F-35 mission at Royal Air Force (RAF) RAF Lakenheath.

RAF Lakenheath was selected as the base to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe based on its ‘existing infrastructure and combined training opportunities’.

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.

“I am honoured to be the first commander of the initial US 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.”

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The F-35A is the USAF’s fifth-generation fighter designed to replace the service’s ageing fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The first fighter jets are scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath later this year.

USAF 48th FW commander colonel Jason Camilletti said: “The amount of support we received, and continue to receive, from the community both here and back home has been overwhelming and highly appreciated.

“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.”

Last month, Lockheed Martin and the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) signed the Lightning Air System National Availability Enterprise (LANCE) contract to support the UK’s Lightning fleet.

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