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



At 8:49 a.m. and 50 seconds on October 1, 2021, in the United Kingdom, the 48th Fighter Wing of RAF Lakenheath in England reactivated the 495th Fighter Squadron.

The 495th FS, nicknamed the Valkyries, is the US Air Force‘s first F-35A squadron in Europe. The timing of the reactivation was exactly 30 years to the day since his appointment as a fighter squadron.

The first F-35A is expected to arrive at RAF Lakenheath later this year. The base was chosen to host the first US F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties to the Royal Air Force, existing infrastructure and combined training opportunities. Additionally, the UK is an essential part of US air force combat training and readiness in Europe due to its excellent airspace partnership with the F-35 program.

Lt. Col. Ian D. McLaughlin assumed command as the first commanding officer since the squadron’s inactivation in 1991. “Today is an exciting day. A lot of work has been done to get us here, but there is still a lot to do before we have jets this winter. The 495th has a proud history and we are excited to take the helm to begin laying the groundwork for the first USAF F-35As stationed in Europe.

The new F-35 squadron will consist of 27 planes and approximately 60 people.

US Air Force Col. Sean Lowe, 48th Operations Group commander, passes the guidon of 495th Fighter Squadron to US Air Force Lt. Col. Ian McLaughlin, incoming 495th FS commander, at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, October 1, 2021 Nicknamed the “Valkyries”, the 495th FS is expected to be fully operational next year with a total of 27 planes and 60 people. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cedrique Oldaker)



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