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US deploys new F-35s to Germany for NATO air policing mission

US Air National Guard f-35 in Germany
A crew chief taxis an F-35A at the Vermont Air National Guard Base, South Burlington, Vermont, May 2, 2022. Photo: US Air National Guard

The United States has deployed F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighters to Germany’s Spangdahlem air base to continue NATO’s enhanced air policing mission along the Eastern flank.

Eight F-35As from the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing arrived in Germany on May 2, two months after fighters from the Hill Air Force base arrived there in February.

More recently, the US Navy deployed six EA-18G Growler aircraft to Spangdahlem to enhance NATO’s collective defense posture in the region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

As part of NATO’s plan to bolster its collective defense posture, the Vermont Air National Guard team will take over the mission for Hill Air Force Base’s 388th Fighter Wing, which has been executing the coalition’s air policing mission.

US European Command’s ability to rotate units maintains readiness across the force and displays the US Air Force’s ability to integrate between Active Duty, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard components.

Fifth-generation aircraft deployed to Germany in the wake of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine provide superior communication capabilities, command and control, and lethality for the combined and joint force.

Over the past two and a half months, F-35 aircraft, aircrew and support personnel have forward-deployed to Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions to enhance NATO security and stability while supporting NATO’s enhanced air policing.

“The continuation of the F-35 mission gives Air National Guard airmen the opportunity to continue the regular touchpoints and routine training integration with US allies and partners throughout Europe,” the Air National Guard said.