A pair of US Air Force F-35A Lightning fighter jets have visited RAF Marham to allow RAF, Royal Navy and USAF ground crew to conduct joint training.
Usually based at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, the 421st Fighter Squadron, Black Widows, are currently deployed to Germany. This was the first time the A model of the F-35 had landed at Marham, the permanent home of the UK fleet of B model Lightnings.
Ahead of the arrival of the American aircraft a team of maintainers from the 421st Aircraft Maintenance Unit had arrived at the Norfolk station to work with Marham’s Visiting Aircraft Servicing Section, led by Master Sergeant Tyler Berry who said:
“We’re training the RAF Team on how to hot refuel our F-35As to improve interoperability with our NATO allies.”
Master Sergeant Tyler Berry
Hot refuelling sees aircraft refuelled with engines running, a process aimed at keeping aircraft on the ground for the shortest time possible. USAF maintainers refuelled one aircraft shadowed by RAF personnel before swapping places for the second Lightning.
Wing Commander Colin Feeney, OC Engineering Wing, RAF Marham said: “This breaks the ice for interoperability ahead of RAF Lakenheath receiving its first F-35As in the coming years. Keeping the links between neighbours strong is highly important for when we’ll both operate 5th Gen air systems.”
"It’s a good day for the USAF and RAF"
Colonel Mark Ciero
Colonel Mark Ciero of USAF Europe was also on hand to observe the training. He said: “This is the first great step toward full maintenance interoperability. It’s a good day for the USAF and RAF as we experience our first integrated hot pit refuelling with our newest and most capable fighter aircraft.
“The proximity of RAF Marham and RAF Lakenheath and the future of our mutual 5th Generation capability demonstrates our two nations shared approach to the defence of Europe.”