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Added: Over a year ago by Royal Navy
The UK has taken delivery of its 14th F-35B Lightning II which flew into Beaufort, South Carolina, to take its place as part of the Lightning Fleet, set to operate from HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.
Operated jointly by the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, the F-35 Lightning jets will be able to operate on land or embarked on the UK’s new aircraft carriers.
The delivery is a significant milestone for the jet programme, coming shortly after the formal commissioning of HMS Queen Elizabeth into the Royal Navy.
Peter Ruddock, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK said: “There are more than 500 UK companies in our supply chain who play a vital role in producing every F-35 and we are proud to have delivered the UK’s 14th aircraft on schedule.
“More than 260 F-35s are now flying from 14 bases around the world and we look forward to supporting the UK’s Lightning Force, as they prepare to bring their F-35s to the UK and achieve initial operational capability next year.”
"More than 260 F-35s are now flying from 14 bases around the world and we look forward to supporting the UK’s Lightning Force, as they prepare to bring their F-35s to the UK and achieve initial operational capability next year" - Peter Ruddock, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK
There are currently some 200 British personnel based at Beaufort testing the aircraft and getting them ready to arrive in the UK next summer as 617 Squadron. Preparations are also being made for First of Class Flight Trials, due to take place on HMS Queen Elizabeth later next year.
The programme is on schedule to achieve Initial Operating Capability from land next year with Initial Operating Capability Carrier Strike in 2020.
In 2018, the aircraft – along with the Navy and RAF pilots and ground crew – will arrive in the UK to officially stand up at RAF Marham in Norfolk. RAF Marham will be the Main Operating Base for the Lightning Force in the UK and from here, they will deploy forward to either embark the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, or operate from deployed operating bases.
UK industry will provide approximately 15 percent by value of each F-35 to be built, which are due to total more than 3,000 in number.