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RAF Lakenheath welcomes new mission, aircraft

A HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is unloaded from a C-17 Globemaster III at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Monday, June 12. The helicopter is with the 56th Rescue Squadron being re-assigned here from Naval Air Station, Keflavik. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter is unloaded from a C-17 Globemaster III at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Monday, June 12. The helicopter is with the 56th Rescue Squadron being re-assigned here from Naval Air Station, Keflavik. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airmen help unload an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from a C-17 Globemaster III at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Monday, June 12. The helicopters are being reassigned to RAF Lakenheath from Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Airmen help unload an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter from a C-17 Globemaster III at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, on Monday, June 12. The helicopters are being reassigned to RAF Lakenheath from Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. (U.S. Air Force photo)

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- The first two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters from the 56th Rescue Squadron arrived here from Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, via a C-17 Globemaster III June 12 and 13.

Five aircraft and many operators and maintainers are moving here as part of the reallocation of the Iceland-based unit.

"We're thrilled to welcome the Airmen from the 56th to RAF Lakenheath," said Brig. Gen. Robert P. Steel, 48th Fighter Wing commander. "Although they've been a part of our wing for about a year as a geographically separated unit in Iceland, having the 56th RQS continue its mission from here only increases our wing's ability to meet our nation's warfighting mission."

Three more helicopters and approximately 25 people will continue to arrive at RAF Lakenheath over the next several months to help bring the squadron back to full operational strength, said Lt. Col. Steve Huss, 56th RQS director of operations.

"The 48th has made the (our) transition to RAF Lakenheath extremely smooth," Colonel Huss said. "The Jolly Green Giants look forward to the outstanding opportunities this move creates. We look forward to further integration."

According to U.S Air Forces in Europe officials, approximately 200 Airmen and their families will be assigned to RAF Lakenheath over the next year as part of the move. The Air Force will maintain two HH-60 helicopters in Iceland until mid-September to provide backup support and training.