F-35 Lightning II will fly in Britain for the first time this summer, making its international debut in July at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Fairford, also flying at the Farnborough International Air Show.
The MoD has three aircraft which are all currently based in the United States undertaking training with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots. Orders for further aircraft will be placed over the next few years. The UK’s first operational Lightning II squadron will be 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, who reform from 2018 to be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk ahead of flight trials off the Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier later that year.
The decision to fly the combat aircraft outside of the United States for the first time, following discussions between Philip Hammond and his US counterpart, Secretary Hagel, is a further demonstration of the progress with the Lightning II programme. The selection of two UK airshows also demonstrates the significant role that Britain has in the programme. Approximately 15 per cent of every aircraft is built in the UK.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:
“The US and the UK have worked closely together on the F-35 project from the beginning. We are the only country that is a first tier partner in the project, which is sustaining tens of thousands of jobs in the UK. This fifth generation stealth combat aircraft will be a major boost to British combat air power and it is entirely fitting that the F-35’s first stop outside the United States will be in the UK.”
The F-35 Lightning II will be capable of undertaking a wide range of operations from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions to high intensity combat, including air defence for a Carrier Task Group and offensive support for ground forces.
The Royal International Air Tattoo is open to the public from 11-13 July & Farnborough International Air Show is open to trade visitors from 14-18 July and open to the public 19-20 July.
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RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2014