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Welcome to RAF Lakenheath: F-35A Lightning IIs land at the Suffolk air base for training deployment

PUBLISHED: 16:05 15 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:09 15 April 2017

An F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, lands at RAF Lakenheath on a training deployment. Picture: Master Sgt Eric Burks

An F-35A Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, lands at RAF Lakenheath on a training deployment. Picture: Master Sgt Eric Burks

Archant

RAF Lakenheath has welcomed a small number of F-35A Lightning IIs as part of a long-planned training deployment to Europe.

The joint strike fighters, from the 388th Fighter Wing, landed at the Suffolk base on Saturday afternoon having arrived from the Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

The aircraft are scheduled to conduct training with other US and NATO air bases across Europe for several weeks as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.

F-35A Lightnings from Hill Air Force Base in Utah,  fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, in March 2017. Picture:US Air Force photo/Ronald Bradshaw/75th Air Base Wing F-35A Lightnings from Hill Air Force Base in Utah, fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range, in March 2017. Picture:US Air Force photo/Ronald Bradshaw/75th Air Base Wing

The training deployment will assists in refining requirements for when the F-35A will arrive at European bases.

RAF Lakenheath will house two Joint Strike Fighter squadrons which are set to arrive in 2021.

Earlier this month, meetings were held between contractors and military members at the air base to discuss the future construction projects needed for when the fighter jets arrive.

MORE - Construction projects to house F-35 Lightning 11 at RAF Lakenheath discussed

The squadrons are set to arrive in 2021.

Demolition work is scheduled to begin in 2018 followed by major construction of new facilities in 2019 to house the expected 1,200 extra US Air Force Airman and 50 jets.

A USAF spokesman said: “The F-35A is a multi-role precision attack fighter with unmatched lethality, survivability and interoperability.”

Another version of the jet will be used by the RAF and will be stationed at RAF Marham.

MORE - Major boost for west Norfolk as £40m training hub at RAF Marham is funded

Construction work at the base is due to be completed early next year and the first planes are due to arrive in Norfolk later in 2018.

The F-35A Lightning II:

It is the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter.

Its advanced stealth allows pilots to go into areas without being detected by radars which can detect older fighters.

Missions traditionally performed by specialized aircraft — air-to-air combat, air-to-ground strikes, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance — can now be executed by a squadron of F-35s.

Each jet costs nearly £100m

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