The F-35A Lightning IIs of the 495th Fighter Squadron (FS) at RAF Lakenheath have each been given the name of a Valkyrie from Norse mythology.
The squadron has the nickname ‘Valkyries’, which was a change brought in for the new era of flying the F-35. The unit had been re-activated on October 1, 2021 and as its previous nickname of ‘Thundervarks’ referred specifically to the F-111F Aardvark, the last aircraft type the unit flew between 1977 and 1991, a new moniker was sought. Suggestions from the public were invited in autumn 2020 and it was announced on February 16, 2021, that the name ‘Valkyries’ had been selected out of 700 possible suggestions.
Valkyries hail from Norse mythology and were the female servants of Odin that decided who lived and died in battle. The first commander of the F-35-equipped 495th FS is Lt Col Ian McLaughlin who said at the announcing of the new name: “Valkyries epitomises the force’s move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter’s air superiority… Like the Valkyries themselves, we’ll be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace.” The USAF also cited other reasons for choosing this name stating: “RAF Lakenheath is in the East of England, an area with extensive Viking and Norse history. Additionally, the 495th Fighter Squadron motto: ‘Mala Ipsa Nova’ in Latin, means ‘Bad News Itself’. Both factors emphasise ‘Valkyries’ as an extremely suitable nickname for the UK-based unit.”