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USAF stands up first overseas F-35A squadron

The first of two new US Air Force F-35A units at RAF Lakenheath in the UK is designated the 495 th ‘Valkyries' Squadron. (US Air Force)

The US Air Force (USAF) has stood up the 495th ‘Valkyries' Squadron as its first overseas unit to operate the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

The 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath in the UK made the announcement on 1 October, noting that the unit's 27 aircraft and roughly 60 personnel will arrive at the base later in 2021.

“The base was selected to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the Royal Air Force, existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities. Additionally, the UK is a critical component in training and combat readiness for US Air Forces in Europe due to its excellent airspace and F-35 programme partnership,” the USAF said.

As previously announced by the USAF, a second squadron at RAF Lakenheath will be announced in due course.

Having declared initial operational capability (IOC) for its conventional take-off and landing (CTOL)-variant F-35A in August 2016, the USAF is now ramping up its aircraft numbers and basing locations. The USAF has a programme of record of 1,763 F-35As over the life of the programme, of which approximately 300 have been delivered to date.

As noted by Janes World Air Forces , the type is operated by the 315 th and 134 th

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