HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – Pilots, maintainers and support personnel from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing here deployed the F-35A Lightning II to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.
The jets arrived at Spangdahlem today to bolster readiness, enhance NATO's collective defense posture and further increase air integration capabilities with Allied and Partner nations. The deployment is with the full cooperation of the German government.
“Our Airmen and aircraft were ready to go. I’m thankful for their hard work, and all of the support we received from Hill Air Force Base to get out the door,” said Col. Craig Andrle, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “This deployment proves we can provide our Air Force the capabilities of the F-35A anywhere in the world rapidly.”
The 388th Fighter Wing is the Air Force’s first active duty combat-capable F-35A Lighting II unit. The F-35 is America’s most advanced multirole fighter, which combines stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness. The aircraft are equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and defend Allies should deterrence fail.
“The deployment of U.S. F-35As to Spangdahlem Air Base increases the defensive posture of the NATO Alliance and enhances our ability to operate together,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, Commander U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and Commander Allied Air Command. “We are facing a dynamic environment and this deployment significantly enhances our support to NATO’s defenses.”
In addition to the F-35A deployment to Spangdahlem Air Base, on Feb. 14, 2022, eight F-15Es from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., deployed to Lask, Poland, and six KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., deployed to Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
These deployments were conducted in full coordination with host nations and NATO military authorities, and although temporary in nature, they are prudent measures to increase readiness and enhance NATOs collective defense during this period of uncertainty.
Hill AFB is home to 78 F-35A Lightning IIs. The 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings are the Air Force's first combat-capable F-35A units, and fly and maintain the jet in a Total Force partnership, which capitalizes on the strength of both components.
“A group of Reserve F-35 pilots and maintainers have joined our active duty counterparts in a deployment to the region and stand ready to support increased security for our NATO allies," said Col. Matt Fritz, 419th Fighter Wing commander. "We train specifically for moments like these to answer the nation’s call in short order.”
This is the second time that the 388th and 419th have deployed to Spangdahlem. The first was part of a Theater Support Package in 2019.