30 Jul 2018

New vertical landing pads for F-35 aircraft used for first time

The UK’s new F-35 multi role combat jets have used their vertical landing capability to land on new Vertical Landing Pads (VLPs), at RAF Marham for the first time.

To support the aircraft’s short take off vertical landing (STOVL) capability, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation is building three VLPs through its contractors, a joint venture between Galliford Try and Lagan Construction, at RAF Marham – the Main Operating Base for the F-35 in the UK.

The F-35’s STOVL capability will provide operational flexibility including landing on the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Initial flight trials of the F-35 Lightning aircraft from HMS Queen Elizabeth are on track for 2018, allowing a coherent build-up towards delivering a carrier strike capability for the UK from 2020.

Each landing pad measures 67m long and 67m wide, with a central landing area of 30.5m by 30.5m. Four F-35B Lightning aircraft arrived at their new home at RAF Marham on 6 June this year, starting the build-up of the newly-reformed 617 Squadron in the UK.

Lt Col Ian Jenkins, Defence Infrastructure Organisation Project Manager for the VLPs, said: “Vertical landing is a really exciting military capability and from an infrastructure perspective it’s been fascinating to be involved in the design and construction process. It was really exciting and rewarding to see an F-35 landing on the first vertical landing pad to be finished and I look forward to seeing more as we continue to work on other infrastructure upgrades required for the F-35s.”

image © Crown Copyright

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