The US and Nato Europe commander spoke on a visit to RAF Lakenheath of the need to grow to meet possible threats.
Gen Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, visited the base on Wednesday to see 48th Fighter Wing Airmen visiting from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, on the first overseas training deployment of the new F-35A Lightning II.
He told them: “We’ve got over 60,000 service members here in Europe that provide for the deterrence and defense of the transatlantic region.
“As you look at the challenges we have in Europe today, this dynamic environment, I expect that we’re going to need to grow a bit, and we’re certainly going to modernize. And that’s what the F-35 is about.”
After seeing the base and the new aircraft, he said, “I saw a credible force of highly skilled and professional airmen that provide a ready and postured force to defend here in Europe.
“I saw some great allies, one of our closest allies, the UK, who supports us here, works shoulder to shoulder with us. And then finally a fantastic aircraft, the most advanced fighter in the world, the F-35.”