American marines fly to Suffolk to join Dambusters on new aircraft carrier
- Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA
A US Marines squadron has arrived in Suffolk to team up with the RAF's "Dambusters" ahead of a partnership on the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
The Marine Fighter Attack Squadron, also known as the "Wake Island Avengers", flew to RAF Lakenheath from Arizona late last month to complete final training with the RAF 617 Squadron.
The Americans will be working alongside the Norfolk-based squadron – nicknamed the Dambusters – on the aircraft carrier which departed the UK on its maiden deployment on Sunday.
The ship, part of the Carrier Strike Group (CSG-21), will carry F35B stealth fighter jets on its way to Asia via Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Together, the partnership makes up the largest fifth-generation carrier air wing in the world.
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Lt. Col. Andrew D’Ambrogi, commanding officer of the Wake Island Avengers, said: “Moving the Marines, aircraft and equipment to the United Kingdom required coordinated planning, complex logistical effort, diligent maintenance and seamless execution.
“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.”
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The Americans will complete a 14-day quarantine period before boarding the aircraft carrier.
While onboard, the Dambusters will also be involved in combat missions over the Middle East against the remnants of the so-called Islamic State.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston added: "Daesh is no longer the ground-holding force, the occupying force, that it was in 2015 and 2016.
“For the last two years we have been identifying pockets where they have dug in to strongholds in the mountains in remote areas, and have been helping the Government of Iraq to clear out those remnants.
“But I’m in no doubt that the violent extremism and the toxic ideology underpinning it is still rooted in that region.
“So we still have an important role and I’m absolutely clear in my mind that what we are doing every day – and I have a Typhoon squadron and other aircraft deployed already, and have done for many years – is making the streets of the UK safer by taking the fight to the violent extremists in their sanctuaries in Iraq and Syria.”