04/25/2017: General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander of European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited Airmen at RAF Lakenheath in conjunction with a deployment of F-35A Lightning II’s.
He highlighted the the significance of the arrival of F-35s to the modernization of the joint and coalition force operating in defense of the North Atlantic.
What might be missed is that the arrival of the USAF F-35s is not about the US introducing new capabilities and the allies following some years later with similar capabilities.
It is about the concurrent development of coalition capabilities within the European theater and indeed world wide.
Indeed, in the UK case, the RAF and Royal Navy are standing up their first F-35 squadron EARLIER than the USAF at Lakenheath.
The Brits are standing up new infrastructure for the F-35 at Marham PRIOR to the US at RAF Lakenheath.
This is about shaping joint 21st century war fighting capabilities at the same time, and can drive fundamental change in the US forces as they interact with and cross-learn from our F-35 allies as well.
As then Colonel Novotny commented when posted as the 48th Wing Commander at RAF Lakenheath and now General Novotny posted to ACC:
“I see there is great potential for two countries to develop in concert, side-by-side, and to set, set the model for joint operations.
“As we get this right, we can bring in the Danes, the Norwegians and Dutch who are close in geography and the Israelis and Italians as well to shape the evolving joint operational culture and approach.
“Before you know it, you’ve got eight countries flying this airplane seamlessly integrated because of the work that Lakenheath and Marham are doing in the 20 nautical miles radius of the two bases.”
And once in the UK, the two forces will clearly operate forward in the broader defense of Euro-Atlantic interests.
This can already be seen during this deployment to RAF Lakenheath.
Two of the US Air Force’s most advanced warplanes, F-35 stealth fighters, landed for the first time in Estonia on Tuesday for exercises in the small NATO state amid tensions with neighbouring Russia.
The move was seen by Estonian defence officials as a gesture underscoring Washington’s commitment to its NATO partners.
Rhetoric by US President Donald Trump, who called NATO “obsolete” shortly before he took office, deeply rattled the alliance’s easternmost members bordering Russia. Trump has since reversed much of his criticism.
“Using the most modern fighter jets of the United States in Europe guarantees the sovereignty of all NATO member states,” Estonian Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna said quoted by the local Baltic News Service.
“We share the same values and are ready to protect the territory of NATO member states from any kind of possible aggression,” he added, speaking at Estonia’s Amari air base where the jets landed.
F-35s, devised to have radar-evasive abilities, are billed as the most advanced warplanes of their kind.
The US Air Force deployed the multi-role fighters to Europe earlier this month for joint exercises NATO partners.
“I think the role of the training deployments being run by the United States Air force is to demonstrate the unique capabilities of the F-35 as they start to integrate into European operations with all the NATO and European partners,” Air Marshal Stuart Evans, deputy commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command (AIRCOM), told AFP at the Amari base.
This also says something as well about the maturity of logistics support to the new combat aircraft.
Former Secretary of the USAF and head of AT and L, Michael Wynne commented on this achievement as follows:
“I am really proud of the integrated logistics system for the F-35 which would allow forward deployment to an austere base. for a dispersed aircraft.
“I am proud of both the USAF and Lockheed to come up with the capability to realize that making places not bases a reality.
“Operations in the future with reduced number of fighters will require that we will have global logistical enterprises which can support austere deployment applications.”
Video by Tech. Sgt. Michael Wykes
AFN United Kingdom
Slideshow above shows the arrival of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath. Credit Photos: USAF