The U.S. Air Force has deployed one squadron of F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft, airmen and associated equipment to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings (FW), at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to participate in exercises and conduct training with other Europe-based aircraft as part of a Theater Security Package (TSP).
Funded through the European Deterrence Initiative, the TSP provides a more robust U.S. military rotational presence in the European theater, capable of deterring adversaries and assuring partners and allies of U.S. commitment to regional security. The F-35s and members of the 421st and 466th Fighter Squadrons (FS) arrived at Aviano Air Base, Italy, on May 23, participated in the Astral Knight exercise, and have transitioned to Spangdahlem for the duration of their summer-long deployment.
The 388th FW is the Air Force's first combat-coded, or operational F-35A unit. This is their second deployment to Europe. The first was the 34th Fighter Squadron deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England, in April 2017. The 421st FS is the newest F-35A squadron, and this is their first deployment with the multi-role stealth fighter.
The active-duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW are the Air Force's only combat-capable F-35 units, maintaining the jets in a Total Force partnership that utilizes the strengths of both components.