Published May 23, 2019
The U.S. Air Force has deployed one squadron of F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, Airmen, and associated equipment to Aviano Air Base, Italy, from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, at Hill AFB, Utah, to participate in exercises and conduct training with other Europe-based aircraft as part of a Theater Security Package.
Funded through the European Deterrence Initiative, the TSP provides a more robust U.S. military rotational presence in the European theater capable of deterring adversaries and assuring partners and allies of U.S. commitment to regional security. The F-35s and members of the 421st and 466th Fighter Squadrons arrived at Aviano on May 23, and will remain in Europe for several weeks.
The 388th FW is the Air Force's first combat-coded, or operational F-35A unit. This is their second deployment to Europe. The first was the 34th Fighter Squadron deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England, in April 2017. The 421st FS is the newest F-35A squadron, and this is their first deployment with the multi-role stealth fighter.
F-35s, along with F-22 Raptors, are the world's premier operational 5th-generation fighters, possessing a unique combination of stealth, speed, agility, and situational awareness along with lethal long-range, air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry, making these aircraft the best air dominance fighters in the world.
The active-duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW are the Air Force's only combat-capable F-35 units, maintaining the jets in a Total Force partnership that utilizes the strengths of both components.