The Air Force on Tuesday said it has deployed a squadron of F-35A fighters and airmen to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, to take part in exercises and training with other aircraft based in Europe.

The F-35s, from the 421st and 466th fighter squadrons at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, are in Germany as part of a European Deterrence Initiative theater security package, according to a news release from U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa. The F-35s and their squadrons arrived at Aviano Air Base, Italy, May 23, where they took part in the Astral Knight exercise, which also involved coalition forces from Croatia, Italy and Slovenia.

They will remain at Spangdahlem for the rest of their summer-long deployment, USAFE said.

The 421st — the Air Force’s newest F-35A squadron — is part of Hill’s active-duty 388th Fighter Wing, and the 466th is part of the Air Force Reserve’s 419th Fighter Wing at Hill. The wings are the Air Force’s only combat-capable F-35 units.

The theater security package is intended to rotate more U.S. military forces through Europe in order to deter adversaries, such as Russia, and reassure U.S. allies and partners that the nation is committed to the region’s security.

This is the second European deployment for a squadron from the 388th, which is the Air Force’s first combat-coded F-35A unit. Previously, the 388th’s 34th Fighter Squadron deployed to RAF Lakenheath in England in April 2017.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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