- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2015

The U.S. military is pulling refueling aircraft and intelligence collection airplanes out of three bases in east Britain over the next few years and turning that region of the world into a permanent home for its newest stealth jet.

Pentagon officials announced Thursday that they would relocate dozens of specialized warplanes stationed at the British base of Royal Air Force Mildenhall to other locations within Europe. Following the removal of those aircraft, officials will station 48 of its F-35 fighter jets at the nearby British base of Royal Air Force Lakenheath.

The relocation effort is part of a larger European infrastructure consolidation plan that is projected to save the U.S. military about $500 million per year.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe spokeswoman Capt. Cheryl Klinkel said officials have yet to establish a firm timeline for moving the military airplanes out of east Britain. Those changes are expected to take place over the next several years, she said.

The Pentagon’s F-35 jets have been the focus of contention among lawmakers and jet program insiders who say that the aircraft will not be capable of conducting support missions that require flying close to the ground.

Reports have recently surfaced that the jet’s canons are missing software and will not be operational for another four years.

Joe DellaVedova, the F-35 spokesman for the Pentagon, blasted those reports in a Wednesday email.

The jet’s canons will be operational and installed on aircraft by 2017, Mr. DellaVedova said.

Additionally, the jets will also be able to use the guns during missions that require the warplanes to fly close to the ground, he said.

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