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