First F-35B Lightning II to come to Britain also first to perform transatlantic flight

Britain has received the first of supersonic strike fighters which will, among their other roles, be gracing the decks of Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

The first F-35B Lightning II jet was flown by RAF pilot Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols on its first transatlantic crossing, accompanied by two United States Marine Corps F-35B aircraft from their training base at Beaufort, South Carolina. The group arrived in Britain on June 29.

The combined US/UK team of aircrew and engineers are in the UK to demonstrate just what the 5th generation aircraft can do, flying at the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough International Air Show over the next few weeks.

The aircraft are due to enter service with the Royal Navy and RAF from 2018.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “The F-35Bs are the most advanced fast jets in the world. Whether operating from land or from one of our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force.”

Air Commodore Harv Smyth, Lightning Force Commander said; “The arrival of Lightning in the UK is an important step towards our delivery of operational capability with the UK’s first ever stealth fighter aircraft.”

“Operating from land bases or our new aircraft carriers, the F35B Lightning will provide ‘next generation’ advanced sensor capabilities which, when combined with its low observable, ‘stealthy’ design, allow the pilot to see more, know more and act faster than the enemy.”

“Our Lightning Force is developing very quickly and we are well prepared for the arrival of our first operational squadron at RAF Marham in 2018.”