The first of Britain’s next-generation fighter jets have taken off from the United States and are currently flying over the Atlantic Ocean towards RAF Marham.
The first of Britain’s new F-35 Lightning aircraft, due to be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, took off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina earlier today.
They are being flown by British pilots of the newly-reformed 617 Squadron, which was immortalised by the famous Dambusters’ raid during World War II.
The F-35s’ planned arrival two months ahead of schedule will provide an opportunity for support staff to get a head-start in preparing the aircraft for operational service at the end of this year.
Around £550m has been invested in RAF Marham as part of a major programme to get the base ready to house the new jets, including a facilities upgrade, resurfaced runways and new landing pads to accommodate the jet’s ability to land vertically.
— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForce) June 6, 2018
This autumn, the first landing of the F-35 will take place on HMS Queen Elizabeth in the next phase of trials. Having both ship and aircraft operating together for the first time will be another significant moment for the Armed Forces.
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.