U.S. Marine Corps 5th-generation aircraft flew more than 5,000 miles from their home station in Arizona to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, ahead of their upcoming combined deployment with the United Kingdom’s newest aircraft carrier. F-35B aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 211, known as the “Wake Island Avengers,” based out of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., arrived at RAF Lakenheath to conduct final training for a carrier deployment aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 21.
This Marine Corps F-35B deployment comes ahead of CSG-21’s worldwide deployment later this year, marking the first full operational deployment of a U.S. F-35B squadron aboard a British aircraft carrier. This combined deployment marks another step forward in the United States’ special relationship with the UK. VMFA-211 is also supported with U.S. Navy personnel assigned to USS John C. Stennis. The Sailors, all aviation ordnancemen, will be assembling ordnance in support of VMFA-211 for the duration of the deployment.
“Moving the Marines, aircraft and equipment to the United Kingdom required coordinated planning, complex logistical effort, diligent maintenance and seamless execution,” said Lt. Col. Andrew D’Ambrogi, the commanding officer of VMFA-211. “Now that we have arrived in the United Kingdom, we are reintegrating with our UK counterparts and focused on providing both the commodore of CSG-21 and US combatant commanders with ready, combat-capable, 5th-generation aircraft.”
During the CSG-21 deployment, VMFA-211 will integrate with the UK’s 617 Squadron “The Dambusters” to form the largest 5th-generation carrier air wing in the world. Every U.S. service member participating in the CSG-21 deployment has taken significant steps to mitigate the effects of COVID-19. VMFA-211 will complete a 14-day restriction-of-movement prior to boarding HMS Queen Elizabeth. Marines and Sailors will continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 throughout the deployment In preparation for this deployment, VMFA-211 previously completed a deployment for training last fall at Royal Air Force Base Marham and aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.