Eight nations set stage for F-35 in Europe

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RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — More than 50 senior leaders from the European theater participated in an F-35 leadership forum held at Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe, July 19-20.

The assembly of experts and stakeholders aimed to provide a common vision among F-35 platform users on future force projection, theater integration and interoperability.

“We’ve come together as a team of allies and partners to begin to set the conditions for bringing the F-35 into the European theater and operating the F-35 in the European theater,” said Maj. Gen. Timothy Fay, U.S. Air Forces in Europe deputy commander, and official host of the leadership forum. “This is a really exciting time to be an Airman in the European theater. Bringing the F-35 into this theater will really change the way we do business here in a way we haven’t seen in decades.”

The forum hosted ally and partner nations from Denmark, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

“For us, it was very important to be a part of the meeting here, and we are looking forward to continuing this kind of operational approach to the F-35,” said Maj. Gen. Aurelio Colagrande, Italian Air Command chief of staff. He also added that Italy was the first nation to fly the 5th generation fighter overseas and currently has three F-35s in the country.

Attendees of the forum additionally received a program update from Lockheed-Martin representatives and an opportunity to engage with an F-35 simulator.

“It’s a power tool. It’s a force multiplier. It’s a game changer for missile defense. It does things we’ve never seen before,” said Gen. Tod Wolters, USAFE commander. He elaborated that the success of the F-35 in Europe depends on leaders at the forum to identify the interoperability baseline and codify common tactics, techniques and procedures. “At the end of the day, if we can say that this is something we’re fusing into the system that guarantees the sovereignty of the skies overhead our NATO nations and our great partners, then we’re in a great place.”

Discussions on F-35 interoperability will continue with an upcoming multilateral symposium planned for October 2017, which will involve expanded discussions on operations, maintenance, logistics and intelligence.