The Air Force has sent 12 F-15Cs and two KC-135s, along with 230 personnel, to support the Arctic Challenge 2017 exercise in Finland and Sweden. The exercise began on May 19 and will finish on June 2. The USAF assets deployed from European bases—the F-15s and 200 personnel from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England, and the KC-135s with 30 people from the 351st Air Refueling Squadron, RAF Mildenhall, England. “The primary objective for us is to work together with our partner nations and allies to increase our interoperability capabilities as a force,” said Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, the 493rd FS commander, according to a press release. In addition to the host countries, other nations participating in the exercise include Norway, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, and the Netherlands, as well as representatives from NATO.
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.