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The United States’ most advanced fighter, the F-35, landed at Ämari

“The visit by the fifth-generation, i.e. most advanced, fighter aircraft to Estonia is a clear sign of the special allied relationship between our countries and the strong presence of the United States in Europe,” said Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna. “We share the same values and we are together ready to defend the territory of NATO member countries from any form of possible aggression. The use of the United States’ newest combat aircraft in Europe ensures the sovereignty of all NATO member countries.” According to Minister of Defence Tsahkna, the landing of the high-tech fighter aircraft at Ämari Air Base demonstrates great recognition of Estonia’s Air Force.

The F-35A type fighter aircraft arrived in Estonia from U.S. Air Force-operated base Lakenheath, located in the United Kingdom; the fighter aircraft are permanently located in the United States, as part of the 34th Fighter Squadron and Reserve 466th Fighter Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The fighters were escorted by a KC-135 from the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England.

“The United States showed that their new fifth generation fighter is ready to protect the skies of the alliance,” said Commander of the Estonian Air Force Colonel Jaak Tarien. According to Tarien, the arrival of the fifth-generation US fighter is given even greater value based on the fact that the F-35 type aircraft had never previously landed outside of a US Air Force base. “This demonstrates the strength of the defence related cooperation between the two countries as well as the level of our Ämari Air Base,” said Tarien.

The F-35 type fighter aircraft arrived in Europe in the middle of April, in order to participate in training exercises along with NATO allies.

The F-35 aircraft is able to operate as a fighter and reconnaissance aircraft as well as a tactical bomber. The F-35 is able to fly at speeds in excess of 1900 km/h; the aircraft’s primary armaments include a GAU-22/A 25mm Gatling-type rotary canon and air-to-air and air-to-surface missiles. Two additional missiles or bombs can be attached under the wings.

The maiden flight of the F-35A fighter aircraft took place on 15 December 2006.

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