Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters and airmen from the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) 4th Fighter Squadron ‘Fighting Fuujins’ have deployed to Base Aérienne 118 in Mont-de-Marsan, France, ahead of Exercise Atlantic Trident 21.
The aircraft and airmen from the unit – which comprises active-duty personnel from the 388th Fighter Wing (FW) and reservists from the 419th FW at Hill Air Force Base, Utah – arrived at the French air base on May 10. During their deployment to the European theatre, F-35As from the 4th FS will participate in multiple events, including Exercise Atlantic Trident 21, underscoring the steadfast US commitment to the region and enhancing interoperability with NATO allies and partners.
Atlantic Trident 21 will take place at Mont-de-Marsan from May 17-28. It is a joint multinational exercise which involves air arms and personnel from France, the UK and the US. The event aims to enhance fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft integration, combat readiness and fighting capabilities by conducting complex air operations in a contested multinational joint force environment.
A dozen F-35As from the 4th FS have deployed to the French base. All with ‘HL’ tail codes, these aircraft comprise serials (in order of arrival): 17-5270 (c/n AF-212); 17-5251 (c/n AF-193); 17-5238 (c/n AF-180); 17-5261 (c/n AF-203); 17-5248 (c/n 190); 17-5252 (c/n AF-194); 17-5259 (c/n AF-201); 17-5268 (c/n AF-210); 17-5253 (c/n AF-195), 15-5196 (c/n AF-171); 17-5243 (c/n AF-185); and 17-5265 (c/n AF-207).
This is the 388th FW’s third F-35A deployment to Europe in recent years. The first saw the 34th FS ‘Rude Rams’ deploy to RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk, UK, in April 2017. The second visit came in May 2019, when the 421st FS ‘Black Widows’ deployed to Aviano Air Base in Italy as a Theater Security Package.