f 35a

Lockheed Martin F-35A Performs First Night Flight

The first night flight in the history of the Lockheed Martin F-35 program was completed Jan. 18, 2012, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Piloted by Lockheed Martin Test Pilot Mark Ward, AF-6, an F-35A conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) variant, launched at 5:05 p.m. PST and landed after sunset at 6:22 p.m.

F-35A Lightning II aircraft receive fuel from a KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2015, during a flight from England to the United States.
Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Madelyn Brown

F-35s arrive in Europe to train with NATO and keep Russia in check

(An F-35 Lightning II from the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, taxis in at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 15, 2017.US Air Force photo/Rank Name)
For the first time ever, US Air Force F-35As arrived in the UK to train with pilots of the Royal Air Force as tensions between the West and Russia peak.

On the same day that the F-35s arrived in England, two Russian warships passed through the English channel on their way to Syria, in response to the US’s April 7 cruise missile strike on a Syrian airfield.

Meanwhile, Montenegro, who the US Senate just backed for ascension into NATO, has an ongoing Interpol manhunt for two Russian operatives they have accused of terrorism for plotting to kill their prime minister. In internal military communications, Russia refers to NATO as the enemy, and they strongly oppose any expansion of the alliance.

As it stands, Russia’s forces in eastern Europe far outnumber NATO’s so much so that some experts have speculated that Russian forces could seize Baltic capitals within days.

(F-35s will have their work cut out for them training against advanced threats like Russia’s Su-35.Wikimedia Commons)

The F-35s will arrive in Europe at a time when Russian aircraft outnumbers — and in some cases can outperform — legacy US and European aircraft stationed there.

The F-35, with its stealth design and unparalleled information-sharing capabilities, represents a huge step up for US and NATO’s air power, as it can improve the performance of legacy planes it flies with by sharing data from its advanced suite of sensors.

Though Russia has long tried to develop counter-stealth technologies and has even taunted the US about its considerable air-defense capabilities, F-35 pilots who spoke to Business Insider said the new fighter would deliver unprecedented capabilities.

The F-35As now at Britain’s Lakenheath air base will train with NATO forces to increase interoperability and deter Russian aggression.

Watch the F-35s arrive in the UK below:

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US Air Force F-35s are heading to Europe to send a message to Russia

(Hill Air Force Base F-35A Lightning IIs fly in formation over the Utah Test and Training Range on March 30.US Air Force photo/R. Nial Bradshaw)

The US Air Force said on Friday that a handful of F-35s would head to Europe as part of an initiative to deter Russian aggression.

According to an Air Force statement, the “long-planned” deployment marks an “important milestone and natural progression of the F-35 program.”

The F-35s will arrive in Europe at a time when Russian aircraft outnumbers — and in some cases can outperform — legacy US and European aircraft stationed there.

The F-35, with its stealth design and unparalleled information-sharing capabilities, represents a huge step up for US air power, as it can improve the performance of legacy planes it flies with.

Though Russia has long tried to develop counter-stealth technologies and has even taunted the US about its considerable air-defense capabilities, F-35 pilots who spoke to Business Insider said the new fighter would deliver unprecedented capabilities.

The Air Force is also looking to scope out the European theater for long-term deployments, which it says would take place in the early 2020s.

NOW WATCH: This is how pilots train to fly the F-35 — America’s most expensive fighter jet



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McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle

F-15 Eagle of the 48th Fighter Wing with undercarriage lowered for a landing at Lakenheath. The U.S. Air Force has chosen RAF Lakenheath in the U.K. as its first base for the F-35A in Europe