The Vermont Air National Guard’s (ANG) F-35A Lightning II fighter jets have deployed to Nato’s eastern flank to fly the coalition’s enhanced air policing mission.
Eight fighter jets have already arrived at the Spangdahlem Air Base (AB) in Germany to continue the mission.
The F-35As are operated by the Vermont ANG’s 158th Fighter Wing (FW).
The mission has been taken over by 158th FW on behalf of Hill Air Force Base’s (AFB) 388th FW, which has been flying the mission since 16 February.
The rotation between units is conducted as part of the US European Command’s efforts to maintain readiness across the US forces.
It also showcases the ability of the US Air Force (USAF) to integrate between active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components.
Additionally, the rotational deployments in the European Area of Operations also enhance interoperability between the US and its European allies.
The F-35A is a fifth-generation combat aircraft equipped with various capabilities including command and control, communication and lethality for the combined and joint forces.
All the capabilities together provide Nato and the US the ability to project and sustain military power and have air superiority in challenging environments.
Prior to the Nato’s mission, the F-35 aircraft, along with its aircrew and support personnel, were forward-deployed to the Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions for around two and a half months.
The forward deployment was to enhance security and stability in the regions while supporting Nato’s enhanced air policing operation.