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Russia Is Watching: More F-35 Stealth Fighters Are Headed to Europe

The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings conducted an F-35A Combat Power Exercise at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Jan. 6, 2020. The exercise, which was planned for months, demonstrated their ability to employ a large force of F-35As -- testing readiness in the areas of personnel accountability, aircraft generation, ground operations, flight operations, and combat capability against air and ground targets. A little more than four years after receiving their first combat-coded F35A Lightning II aircraft, Hill's fighter wings have achieved full warfighting capability. (U.S. Air Force photo by R. Nial Bradshaw)

More F-35s are headed to Europe – There are worse times to head to Germany than in early May, but the pilots and ground crews of the Vermont Air National Guard’s 158th Fighter Wing won’t likely have time to take in the sights. Eight F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation fighters from the ANG unit recently arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base to continue NATO’s enhanced air policing mission along the eastern flank.

As part of NATO’s plan to bolster its collective defense posture, the Vermont ANG team will take over the mission for Hill Air Force Base’s 388th FW, which has been executing the international alliance’s air policing mission since their arrival Feb. 16.

The U.S. European Command regularly rotates units to maintain readiness across the force, as well as to display the United States Air Force’s ability to integrate seamlessly between active duty, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard components.

Strong Message to Russia

The deployment of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft also sends a strong message to Russia, as the fifth-generation aircraft provide unprecedented communication capabilities, command and control, and lethality for the combined and joint force. Those capabilities afford NATO and U.S. leaders the flexibility to project power and assert air dominance in highly contested environments.

Over the past two and a half months, F-35 aircraft, aircrew and support personnel have been 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 also provides ANG Airmen the opportunity to continue the regular touch points and routine training integration with U.S. allies and partners throughout Europe.

The fifth-generation aircraft, originally from Hill Air Force Base (AFB), Utah, supported NATO’s Enhanced Air Policing mission from forward operating locations at Estonia’s Amari Air Base, Lithuania’s Siauliai Air Base, and Romania’s Fetesti Air Base beginning in February. The aircraft were forward-deployed just following Russia’s unprovoked and unwarranted invasion of Ukraine.

“Fifth-generation aircraft provide unprecedented communication capabilities, command and control, and lethality for the combined and joint force. These capabilities afford NATO and U.S. leaders the flexibility to project power and assert air dominance in highly contested environments,” United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa announced via a release earlier this month.


F-35 Lightning II demonstration team members sprint to their positions during the ground show at the Defenders of Liberty Air & Space Show at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., May 17, 2019. The team’s ground show consists of pre-flight inspections with sharp, quick-paced movements that showcase the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Cook)


F-35 shot from KC-135 tanker.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 is currently operated by multiple NATO partners including the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark and Canada. Poland, Belgium and Germany will also soon be operating the highly-capable fifth-generation stealth aircraft, while non-NATO partners including Switzerland and Finland recently announced plans to acquire the aircraft.

Additional U.S. deployment has included eight F-15Es from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing from Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, to Lask, Poland, according to Air Force public affairs in Europe.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.



  1. Tom

    May 14, 2022 at 10:03 am

    Canada does NOT operate the F35. It does produce parts for the aircraft and the Canadian government recently announced they were entering negotiations with Lockheed to purchase F35. It will many years before Canadian planes enter service.

  2. James

    May 14, 2022 at 10:46 am

    Unprovoked attack? You are deluding yourself as a mouthpiece of FU demented Biden and the Democrats Pelosi snd Schumer to name a few… study your history and stop promoting a nuclear war.
    All these countries and people are hypocrites and liars. Why did all of them NOT question the US when it invaded Afghanistan, Libya(assassinate Khadafy), Iraq(lied about its WMD), Syria, Yemeń, Panama Canal, Bolivia, Nicaragua, need I go on? The US is the promoter of all these stupid wars. They blockaded Cuba because Castro asked the USSR to put missiles in Cuba as a protection against the US. Think if missiles were placed in Canada or Mexico by China or the USSR? Would the US go to war to have them removed? Of course. These countries are the red line of the US, according to its Monroe Doctrine. Now the Russians have told them hundreds of times that Ukraine and Georgia are its red line yet the US and NATO laughs at this position. F you.

  3. Alex

    May 15, 2022 at 11:26 am

    A demobilized French soldier, author of the book “Get up and go thanks to science” Adrien Boke went to Ukraine on a humanitarian mission and spent three weeks there.

    Upon his return, he decided to convey to the French information about the events he had witnessed in Ukraine.

    “I take full responsibility for what I say. While in Ukraine, I witnessed war crimes. All of them were committed by the Ukrainian army. But in France we don’t talk about it!

    When I returned to France from Ukraine, I was shocked: TV channels invite as experts people who have not been to Ukraine and do not know anything about what is happening there now. However, they dare to speculate about these events. Between what I hear from the TV screen and what I saw with my own eyes is an abyss.

    Azov fighters are everywhere. With neo-Nazi stripes. It shocks me that Europe is supplying weapons to neo-Nazis. Not only do they not hide their views. They advertise them. I worked with these people and treated them.

    Being there, there was nothing I could do. Just watch and make videos. I have this footage and will use it as evidence of Ukraine’s crimes.

    I witnessed how the Ukrainian military shot through the knees of captured Russian soldiers and shot in the head higher-ranking officers.

    I have personally seen American videographers making fake footage from the scene of the events staging.

    All destroyed civilian buildings, given out by Ukraine for bombardment of civilians, are nothing more than the result of inaccurate shooting by Ukrainians at military facilities.

    The Armed Forces of Ukraine hide ammunition in residential buildings at night, without even informing the residents. This is called using people as a shield, ”Boke quotes one of the French media.

    The Washington Post recently drew attention to the fact that Ukrainian troops are placing military equipment in residential areas of cities in an attempt to counter the Russian Armed Forces, which threatens the lives of civilians.

    Boke also spoke about the untruthfulness of Western media reports about the events in Bucha.

    “Bucha is a staging. The bodies of the dead were moved from other places and deliberately placed in such a way as to produce shocking footage, ”the French author noted.

    The documents confirming this were submitted to the Federal Security Service – how, who – there are relevant intercepts – on what transport he came to this settlement and created the conditions for organizing this provocation.

    Soon all the collected evidence about the crimes of the Nazis in Ukraine will be seen by the whole world. And the most important thing is the help of Western countries to the Nazis of Ukraine and assistance in their crimes.

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