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"...During its Lakenheath deployment, the USAF will restrict its training operations to the UK airspace...."
England F-35A Deployment Just Practice, Not a Message
20 Apr 2017 John A Tirpak
"The movement of eight F-35As to Lakenheath, England—the first overseas deployment of the Air Force’s newest fighter—isn’t meant to send any kind of political message, and the aircraft won’t be available for operational missions during their weeks-long stay in the UK, USAF officers reported during a telephone press conference on April 19....
...This UK deployment now adds the experience of transiting the ocean and setting up with “a different power system” in a host country, he [Lt. Col. George Watkins, commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron aircraft from Hill AFB, Utah] said....
...Six F-35As initially made the trip; one additional F-35A aborted at Hill as a precautionary measure for a suspect fuel tank reading, but it and another jet followed the rest of the group Wednesday. Watkins said the unit brought 245 people on C-17 and C-5 cargo aircraft; a larger-than-usual number of the airmen were “security forces,” he said.
The size of the deployment was “very comparable” to what is done with F-16 movements, Watkins noted, but it was not modeled on the “Rapid Raptor” concept which quickly deploys a small number of aircraft with a single C-17 or KC-10 carrying support gear and people.
Each group of three F-35s was accompanied by three tankers along the way, and nine air refuelings were made on each aircraft. KC-135 tankers from RAF Mildenhall escorted the first group of jets from over Canada the rest of the way to Lakenheath. He said the Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS) came ahead of the group, was set up “in record time” and is functioning well in the new location. “We’re happy with how it’s working,” Watkins asserted.
He also said the F-35’s low observable surfaces will be maintained at combat levels during the deployment. The exact duration of the planned deployment was not disclosed."
Source: http://www.airforcemag.com/Features/Pag ... sage-.aspx
2 More F-35s to Join Fleet in Europe After Fuel Valve Glitch
19 Apr 2017 Oriana Pawlyk
"...Six fifth-generation aircraft from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, originally flew out on Saturday; two additional aircraft will join the rotation this week after one stayed stateside for a small maintenance fix, said Lt. Col. George Watkins, commander of the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill.
Before crossing the Atlantic, the pilot of the aircraft noticed a fuel tank float valve mishap, Watkins said. As a routine safety precaution, the aircraft stayed back until the issue was resolved.
“They diverted two of the airplanes, one with the problem, one as the wingman to Bangor, Maine,” said Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, a former F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot who directs the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program’s integration office for the service.
“There are no F-35 maintenance people at Bangor, so you now have to fly people from Hill Air Force Base … out, to do the troubleshooting on the airplane and then fix the airplane,” Pleus told Military.com at the Pentagon Wednesday.
The Air Force would have had to wait for available tankers to then fly alongside the fighters to Lakenheath, said the general, who is moving on to a new post at Air Combat Command.
“You can’t just say that the airplane took five days to fix — the airplane could have taken two hours to fix, but to get tankers and logistics folks out there” it takes longer, he said.
“Realize, it’s a very difficult, logistical challenge to move fighter planes across the ocean,” Pleus said. “The Air Force makes it look very easy when we do it, because we do it all the time.”
Pleus said hiccups are standard no matter whether the service is dealing with an older, fourth-generation F-16 or a brand new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Air Force has contingency plans in place in case of any kind of snafu, he said.
“Fighter airplanes are extremely technologically complicated machines, [like] high performance sports cars that require lots of maintenance and lots of work; in this case, it was out of caution the pilot decided [he] had an anomaly, and said it was best” to check it out...."
Source: https://www.dodbuzz.com/2017/04/19/2-mo ... ve-glitch/
Kinda makes you admire our 354th TFW loggies and AMU's and everybody that took 72 planes , wrench-benders and all the support troops from The Beach to Korat in 6 days.....
mixelflick wrote:Patiently waiting for the results of F-35 vs. F-15 air to air combat sorties...
"An F-35A Lightning II refuels over North America en route to its deployed location in Europe April 15, 2017. The U.S. Air Force deployed the F-35A Lightning IIs, approximately 250 Airmen and associated equipment, to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on a long-planned training deployment to conduct air training with other Europe based aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Nathan Lipscomb)" https://media.defense.gov/2017/Apr/18/2 ... 0-0926.JPG (3.7Mb)