Hill AFB F-35s deploy to Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions near Ukraine

Feb 24, 2022, 4:28 PM | Updated: Feb 25, 2022, 10:41 am
Two U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air For...
Two U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, fly over the 86th Air Base, Romania, Feb. 24, 2022. Aircraft and crews will work closely with Allies in the Black Sea region to reinforce regional security during the current tensions caused by Russia's continuing military build-up near Ukraine. (Used by permission, U.S. Air Force/ Senior Airman Ali Stewart)
(Used by permission, U.S. Air Force/ Senior Airman Ali Stewart)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany – Six F-35 Lightning II jets from Utah’s Hill Air Force Base that deployed to Germany last week have now “forward-deployed” to NATO’s eastern flank near the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea the Air Force said Wednesday. 

A news release said the aircraft moved from their original European operating location at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. 

They will support NATO’s “Enhanced Air Policing mission from forward operating locations at Estonia’s Amari Air Base, Lithuania’s Siauliai Air Base, and Romania’s Fetesti Air Base,” the release said. 

“We are facing a dynamic environment, and the deployment of F-35s to NATO’s eastern flank enhances our defensive posture and amplifies the Alliance’s interoperability,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Force in Europe – Air Forces Africa commander. 

Hill AFB sent planes, pilots, maintenance crews, and support personnel from the active-duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter wings on February 16.

“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 last week. “This deployment proves we can provide our Air Force the capabilities of the F-35A anywhere in the world rapidly.” 

The news release said, “The F-35 provides unprecedented communication capabilities, command and control, and lethality for the combined and joint force. These capabilities afford NATO leaders the flexibility to project power and assert air dominance in highly contested environments.” 

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

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Hill AFB F-35s deploy to Baltic Sea and Black Sea regions near Ukraine