US Air Force F-35s are heading to Europe to send a message to Russia
The US Air Force announced on Friday that a handful of F-35s will head to Europe as part of an initiative to deter Russian aggression.
According to an Air Force statement, the "long-planned" deployment marks an "important milestone and natural progression of the F-35 program."
The F-35s will arrive in Europe at a time when Russian aircraft outnumbers, and in some cases can outperform, legacy US and European aircraft stationed there.
The F-35, with its stealth design and unparalleled information-sharing capabilities, represents a huge step up for US air power, as it can improve the performance of legacy planes it flies with.
Though Russia has long tried to develop counter-stealth technologies and has even taunted the US about its considerable air-defence capabilities, F-35 pilots who spoke to Business Insider say that the new fighter will deliver unprecedented capabilities.
The Air Force also looks to scope out the European theatre for long-term deployments, which it say will take place in the early 2020s