US Air Force activates first Europe-based F-35A Squadron


The 48th Fighter Wing has reactivated the first U.S. Air Forces in Europe F-35A squadron. The 495th Fighter Squadron, nicknamed as the “Valkyries,” was activated at exactly 8:49 and 50 seconds, Friday morning, 30 years to the day since its designation as a fighter squadron.

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US Air Force activates first Europe based F 35A Squadron F-35A Lightning II fighter jets  (Picture source: USAF)


The first F-35A is scheduled to arrive at RAF Lakenheath later this year. The base was selected to host the first U.S. F-35A squadrons in Europe based on very close ties with the Royal Air Force, existing infrastructure, and combined training opportunities. Additionally, the U.K. is a critical component in training and combat readiness for U. S. Air Forces in Europe due to its excellent airspace and F-35 program partnership.

Lt. Col. Ian D. McLaughlin has assumed command as the first commander since the squadron’s inactivation in 1991.   “Today is an exciting day. There has been a great deal of work done to get us this far, but there’s a lot more that needs to be done prior to getting jets this winter. The 495th has a proud history and we’re excited to take the guidon forward to start building the foundation for first USAF F-35As stationed in Europe.”

The new F-35 squadron will consist of 27 aircraft and roughly 60 personnel.


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