Lakenheath’s F-35s Get a Nickname: Valkyries

The Air Force’s first overseas F-35A unit has a nickname: the Valkyries.

The 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, U.K., announced Feb. 16 that Valkyries is the winning nickname for the 495th Fighter Squadron, picked from about 700 different suggestions submitted by the public in the fall of 2020. The list was whittled down to five finalists, with Valkyries beating out Archangels, Sabres, Sentinels, and Swordsmen, according to a wing release.

In Norse mythology, a Valkyrie is a female figure that chooses who will live or die in battle, the wing said in a release, adding that there is Norse and Viking history in Lakenheath’s region. Additionally, the squadron’s motto “Mala Ipsa Nova” is Latin for “Bad News Itself,” the wing said.

“Valkyries epitomizes the force’s move toward more inclusivity and equally represents the fifth-generation stealth fighter’s air superiority,” incoming 495th FS Commander Lt. Col. Ian McLaughlin said in the release. “I am honored to be the first commander of the initial U.S. Air Force’s overseas-based F-35A unit. Like the Valkyries themselves, we’ll be vital to determining the fate of our adversaries in the battlespace.”

The wing in September announced it would activate the 495th FS for the F-35A mission. About 1,200 personnel are expected to arrive at the base as the jets come online, and the first F-35As will arrive late this year.

“The amount of support we received, and continue to receive, from the community both here and back home has been overwhelming and highly appreciated,” 48th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jason Camilletti said in the release. “Basing F-35s at RAF Lakenheath will be a game changer as it will allow us to further advance interoperability with our European teammates, and is a visible demonstration that we—and all of NATO—will continue to own the skies.”

While Lakenheath’s 495th Fighter Squadron will be the Air Force’s first overseas based F-35s, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, is the first USAF base outside the continental U.S. to receive the jets.