Hill AFB F-35 jets arrive in Germany as tension continues with Russia, Ukraine

Feb 16, 2022, 5:17 PM | Updated: Feb 17, 2022, 5:24 am
An F35 waits on the runway at Hill Air Force Base in Utah during a training exercise on Jan. 8, 202...
An F35 waits on the runway at Hill Air Force Base in Utah during a training exercise on Jan. 8, 2020. (Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey/KSL TV)
(Photojournalist Meghan Thackrey/KSL TV)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The Air Force deployed F-35 aircraft and support crews from Utah’s Hill AFB to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany Wednesday.

Air Force officials said the airmen will bolster readiness and provide support for our NATO allies.

The U.S. and its allies continue to keep a wary eye on the Russian buildup of forces on its border with Ukraine. The Biden Administration said Russia added up to 7,000 troops near the border Wednesday even as Vladimir Putin claimed troops would pull back from the area.

Katie Adams-Anderton has relatives that live less than 150 miles from Russian positions and fleeing to neighboring countries looks difficult at best.

“I was told today was the day, and everybody in Ukraine was told today was the day,” Adams-Anderton said. “Some neighboring countries have already said they’re preparing for Ukrainian refugees, but my family’s situation…we’ve talked about it, there isn’t even money to get there.”

It’s a different concern from HAFB as F-35 fighters scramble to the region. Hill AFB sent planes, pilots, maintenance crews and support personnel from the active-duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter wings.

“Our airmen and aircraft were ready to go. I’m thankful for their hard work, and all of the support we received from Hill Air Force Base to get out the door,” said Col. Craig Andrle, 388th Fighter Wing commander. “This deployment proves we can provide our Air Force the capabilities of the F-35A anywhere in the world rapidly.”



The Air Force also deployed eight F-15Es from the 336th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C. Lask, Poland. Six KC-135 Stratotankers from the 100th Aerial Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., have also arrived at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.

The release called the 388th Fighter Wing the first active-duty combat-capable F-35A Lighting II unit in the Air Force.

“The deployment of U.S. F-35As to Spangdahlem Air Base increases the defensive posture of the NATO Alliance and enhances our ability to operate together,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, commander U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa and commander Allied Air Command. “We are facing a dynamic environment and this deployment significantly enhances our support to NATO’s defenses.”

In addition, the Air Force said the host nations and NATO authorities coordinated the deployments with the United States.

Hill AFB is home to 78 of the F-35A Lightning IIs.

I don’t know if my family will survive this. I don’t know if this will even happen,” Adams-Anderton said.  “At this point, you get to be grateful every day you get a message.”

Adams-Anderton says she just hopes if it comes to offering up humanitarian help, people will take the opportunity to make a difference.

She worries there could be a lot of people hurting at the end of this.

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Hill AFB F-35 jets arrive in Germany as tension continues with Russia, Ukraine