F-35s land in Latvia for first time, operate along Russia border
The US Air Force is operating F-35s near the Russian border, making a temporary tour stop in the tiny nation of Latvia.
The Utah-based F-35s, which belong to the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, made a “hot pit” refueling at Lielvarde Air Base earlier this week while participating in Operation Rapid Forge.
Originally intended to enhance interoperability with NATO allies, Operation Rapid Forge also allows the new F-35As to operate close to America’s most established nemesis, Russia.
Bordering the Baltic Sea, Russia, Estonia, Lithuania and Belarus, Latvia is a strategically-important country, despite the fact that it has less than two million inhabitants and covers less than 25,000 square miles.
Forcibly occupied by the Soviet Union in 1944, Latvia was a Communist country until the early 1990s.
The arrival of F-35s on Tuesday marked the first ever visit of the advanced aircraft to Latvia, sparking intrigue among the locals.
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