US Sending F-35 Fighters to Europe for Training: Pentagon

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The US Air Force's newest stealth fighters arrived in England over the weekend as part of the Pentagon's effort to reassure European allies in the face of Russian aggression on the continent.

"The forward presence of F-35s support my priority of having ready and postured forces here in Europe", General Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, said in a statement.

The U.S. Air Force's F-35A is deploying internationally for the first time this weekend, heading to Europe to conduct training exercises with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The deployment is expected to last several weeks, and the jets will be part of a USA program called the European Reassurance Initiative - a joint effort with America's European allies that pushes back against Russia's aggression in Europe. "These aircraft, plus more importantly, the men and women who operate them, fortifies the capacity and capability of our NATO Alliance", US Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, the commander of US European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe said, as quoted in the statement.

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The Air Force emphasized a similar line with the weekend deployment to England.

The cost of the aircraft has generated strong headwinds of criticism, including from US President Donald Trump.

It did not name the countries where the aircraft would be deployed to.The F-35, which is the Pentagon's costliest arms program, has been dogged by problems.

The US Marine Corps' variant, F-35B, was the first to be declared operationally capable.

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