The U.S. Air Force has confirmed that F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters with F-15E Strike Eagles were deployed to Lithuania.
According to a statement, F-35A jets arrived at Siauilai Air Base, Lithuania, as part of Operation Rapid Forge, along with F-15E Strike Eagles and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. Rapid Forge is a U.S. Air Forces in Europe-sponsored training event designed to enhance interoperability with NATO allies and partners, improve readiness and sharpen operational capabilities.
Fighter and mobility aircraft also deployed to bases in Poland and Estonia as part of the exercise.
At Powidz Air Base, Poland, F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, F-15E Strike Eagles, and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and multifunctional Airmen conducted rapid refueling and re-arming using inert munitions. This exercises the Air Force’s ability to rapidly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams to austere and potentially contested areas. Under the multifunctional Airman construct, Airmen are able to perform multiple roles – e.g. weapons loaders could drive a refueling truck, security forces defenders could refuel a jet, and avionics specialists could provide airfield security while also performing their primary duties.
Later, F-15E Strike Eagles and MC-130J Commando II aircraft arrived at Amari AB, Estonia, to conduct refueling operations. C-130J Super Hercules aircraft arrived at Powidz Air Base, Poland.
The ability to operate at forward locations enables collective defense capabilities and provides the U.S. and NATO allies the strategic and operational breadth needed to deter adversaries and assure our allies and partners.
The F-35s are deployed from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB, Utah. F-15E Strike Eagles are deployed from the 4th FW, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Both squadrons of fighter jets are operating out of Spangdahlem AB, Germany. The MC-130J aircraft are from the 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, and the C-130J aircraft are from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, and from the 317th AW deployed to Ramstein from Dyess AFB, Texas.