The U.S. Air Force has fielded several Lockheed Martin-built F-35A Lightning II aircraft in England for the first time to carry out training exercises with NATO member countries, the Defense Department said Saturday.
The F-35A fighter jets from the 419th and 388th fighter wings at Hill Air Force Base in Utah arrived Saturday at England-based Royal Air Force Lakenheath and will stay for several weeks in Europe to train with allied countries as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.
The deployment seeks to help the Air Force demonstrate the fighter jet’s operational capabilities and streamline the requirements for positioning the aircraft in Europe as the continent prepares to get F-35As by early 2020s, DoD said in a separate news release published Friday.
The service branch’s Air Mobility Command supported the F-35A deployment in Europe and several refueling planes from four various military bases offered at least 400,000 pounds of fuel during the “tanker bridge” operation between the U.S. and Europe.
The military branch used C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to fly staff and maintenance equipment to England.