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Hill’s Fighter Wings deploy F-35A Lightning IIs to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany

By Deborah Wilber - | Feb 16, 2022

U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Kip Sumne

Airmen from the 388th Fighter Wing prepare an F-35A Lightning II for deployment to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The wing's 34th Fighter Squadron, alongside reservists from the 419th Fighter Wing, deployed to Germany to bolster readiness, enhance NATO's collective defense posture and further increase air integration capabilities with Allied and Partner nations

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — With full cooperation of the German government, pilots, maintainers and support personal from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings deployed F-35A Lightning IIs to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany on Monday.

Arriving in Spangdahlem today to bolster readiness, enhance NATO’s collective defense posture and increase air integration capabilities with Allied and Partner nations, 388th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Craig Andrle said airmen and aircraft were ready to go. The deployment, they say, proves the Air Force’s ability to rapidly deploy the F-35A anywhere in the world.

“I’m thankful for their hard work, and all the support we received from Hill Air Force Base to get out the door,” Andrle said.

Gen. Jeff Harrigan, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa and the Allied Air Command, said the deployment of U.S. F-35As to Spangdahlem Air Base increases the defensive posture of the NATO Alliance as well as enhancing abilities to operate together.

The F-35 is regarded as America’s most advanced multi-role fighter, combining stealth, sensor fusion and unprecedented situational awareness. The jet is equipped for a variety of missions to deter aggression and potentially defend Allies.

With 78 F-35A Lightning IIs, the 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wings are the Air Force’s first combat-capable F-35A units. The 388th FW is the Air Force’s first active duty combat capable F-35A Lightning II unit.

“We are facing a dynamic environment and this deployment significantly enhances our support to NATO’s defenses,”

According to Micah Garbarino, 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, the F-35A deployment to Germany was not the only one at the time. Eight F-15Es from 336th Fighter Squadron, Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C., were deployed to Last, Poland, and six KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., were sent to Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

In answering the nation’s call in short order, Col. Matt Fritz, 419th FW Commander, said they train specifically for moments like this.

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