08 Jun 2018

Britain welcomes first four F-35 jets to RAF Marham

The first of Britain’s  next-generation F-35 fighter jets have arrived home two months ahead of schedule in a major milestone for the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

The first four of Britain’s new cutting-edge aircraft arrived into RAF Marham their new home in Norfolk after a trans-Atlantic flight from the United States, where Britain has more of the jets and 150 personnel in training.

The F-35 jets took off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and were flown by British pilots of the newly-reformed 617 Squadron, which was immortalised by the famous Dambusters’ raid of World War II.

The Lightning, as the aircraft will be known in the UK, is the first to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings. It will be jointly operated by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and can operate from land and sea, forming a vital part of ‘carrier strike’, the use of the aircraft from Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.

This is the first tranche of F-35s to arrive, with RAF Voyager aircraft providing air-to-air refuels on their trans-Atlantic journey. More jets are due in Britain later this year, and there is an overall plan to procure 138.

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, commented: “These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world. With a game-changing ability to collect crucial intelligence, fight wars and tackle terrorism, these are the most advanced jets in British history.

“The work that’s gone into their early arrival shows they have the people to match. Our defence industry and military have always been at the very forefront of technology, and today’s momentous arrival of these incredible jets shows we are upholding our proud tradition of innovation while keeping Britain safe from the gravest of dangers.”

image © Crown Copyright

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