The UK’s new fleet of F-35 Lightning fighter jets are slated to attain initial operating capability (IOC) with the Royal Air Force (RAF) by December this year.

The Lockheed Martin-developed F-35 aircraft will be able to operate from land bases once it is operational.

The fighter jets have the capability to carry out short take-offs and vertical landings, and are equipped with a combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar, sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems.

The country currently has a total of 14 F-35 stealth jets based in the US and operated by approximately 150 UK personnel.

The aircraft are slated to arrive in the UK later this year at the RAF Marham airforce station and military airbase.

To be jointly operated by the RAF and the British Royal Navy, the F-35s will also perform their initial flight trials on-board the navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The flight trials will be carried out off the coast of the US during the fourth quarter.

“The F-35 will provide the UK Armed Forces with a game-changing capability.”

Lockheed Martin UK chief executive Peter Ruddock said: “The F-35 will provide the UK Armed Forces with a game-changing capability that will allow the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to project power around the world for decades to come.”

The UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson recently visited the Institute for Engineering and Technology to experience the advanced technology deployed on the new aircraft in a Lockheed Martin F-35 simulator in London.

Williamson said: “These pioneering stealth jets will protect British lives as we face intensifying and evolving threats at home and abroad.

“The F-35 is the most advanced and dynamic fighter aircraft in our history, and will defend this country from terrorists, collect crucial intelligence, and safeguard our national interests from those who seek to do us harm.”

The global F-35 programme is expected to support 20,000 jobs across the UK over the entire production period of 30 years.

The aircraft programme has generated more than £9bn for the UK industry to date.