Home Americas US Air Force activates first Europe-based F-35A squadron

US Air Force activates first Europe-based F-35A squadron

F-35A at RAF Lakenheath
F-35As operated from RAF Lakenheath in 2017 during the first F-35A fighter training deployment to the US European Command area. Photo: US Air Force

The US Air Force has welcomed its first Europe-based F-35A squadron with the reactivation of the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force base Lakenheath, England.

The 495th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed as the “Valkyries,” was activated at exactly 8:49 and 50 seconds, October 1, 30 years to the day since its designation as a fighter squadron.

Valkyries as a name for the squadron was first revealed in February this year by the service. In Norse mythology, Valkyries are female figures who choose those that will live or die in battle. RAF Lakenheath is in the east of the United Kingdom, an area with extensive Viking and Norse history. Additionally, the 495th FS motto, “Mala Ipsa Nova,” in Latin, means “Bad News Itself.”

The first F-35A is scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath later this year.

The US Air Force said 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 program partnership,” a statement from the 48th Fighter Wing said.

Lt. Col. Ian D. McLaughlin has assumed command as the first commander since the squadron’s inactivation in 1991.

“Today is an exciting day. There has been a great deal of work done to get us this far, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done prior to getting jets this winter. The 495th has a proud history and we’re excited to take the guidon forward to start building the foundation for first USAF F-35As stationed in Europe.”

The new F-35 squadron will consist of 27 aircraft and roughly 60 personnel.