F-35 Fighter Jets Moving to Europe


Elizabeth Boyle, Staff

U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth fighter flies over the San Francisco Bay, on Oct. 13, 2019.

When you look up at the sky on a sunny day you may see airplanes flying above and they seem to be traveling at such a high speed. You are most likely looking at a commercial airline and not an F-35 fighter jet, which the U.S. recently activated in Europe. 

In early October the US Air Force, working with the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, transported its first squadron of F-35 jets to the Royal Air Force Laken-heath Airbase. By the end of this year, the U.S. is hoping to have up to 27 jets in England. This is an important moment because it is the first time F-35 jets have been permanently stationed in Europe. 

A Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet is an American model all-weather stealth fighter. The jet has one seat and one engine and is a multifunctional aircraft that can be used in airstrikes, reconnaissance missions, and electronic warfare. This jet is different from your average commercial airline not only in size and speed but how it is able to take off and land. 

It can do a conventional take-off and landing using a traditional runway and if it is not carrying a heavy payload, it also has the capability to take off and land without a runway using short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) technology. The plane is used in the U.S., several North Atlantic Treaty Organizations (NATO) partners, as well as Israel, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

The plan for the F-35s in the U.K. is for the U.S. and Royal Air Force to work together in training missions. The U.K. will also be able to use this squadron of F-35s and needed by their Air Force, in preparation for receiving up to 48 F-35s of their own in the next year. 

The U.S. is continuing its initiative from 2019 when it brought a squadron of F-35s to Italy in order to work on the European Deterrence Initiative. This initiative was meant to strengthen U.S. relationships and counter aggression from potential enemies. 

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