Britain's first four Lockheed F-35Bs flew into their new home at RAF Marham on 6th June.
Two years after a British F-35B touched down in the UK for the first time, the Royal Air Force’s first four Lockheed F-35Bs flew into their new home at RAF Marham on 6th June. They touched down after a trans-Atlantic flight from the U.S., with RAF Voyager aircraft providing air-to-air refuels.
These are the first of the 15 F-35Bs delivered to the UK to date. The remainder are stationed at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort or Edwards Air Force Base in California, where they are involved in testing and training. More jets are due in Britain later this year, and there is an overall plan to procure 138 aircraft.
The F-35s — which will be operated by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy — are scheduled to achieve initial operational capability at the end of this year.
Around £550m has been invested in RAF Marham as part of a major change programme to get the base ready to house the new jets. The base has seen an upgrade in facilities, resurfaced runways and the addition of new landing pads to accommodate the jet’s ability to land vertically.
This autumn, the first landing of the F-35 will take place on the Royal Navy's new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the next phase of trials.
Sustainment support for the UK's fleet of F-35 aircraft based at RAF Marham will be provided by Lightning Team UK, which represents the industry team of BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce.