The first F-35 vertical landing was performed at Royal Air Force (RAF) base Marham on new vertical landing pads (VLPs) as the multi-role fighter jets made use of their short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) capability.
The UK Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) is currently developing three VLPs through a joint venture between Galliford Try and Lagan Construction.
RAF Marham in Norfolk, East Anglia, UK, serves as the main operating base for the F-35 aircraft in the UK.
The F-35 vertical landing capability will provide operational flexibility, including landing on the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
DIO VLP project manager lieutenant colonel Ian Jenkins said: “Vertical landing is a really exciting military capability and from an infrastructure perspective it’s been fascinating to be involved in the design and construction process.
“It was really exciting and rewarding to see an F-35 landing on the first VLP to be finished and I look forward to seeing more as we continue to work on other infrastructure upgrades required for the F-35s.”
With a length and width of 67m, each landing pad has a central landing area measuring 30.5m by 30.5m.
On 6 June, four F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft landed at their new base at RAF Marham to start building up the newly reformed 617 Squadron in the UK.
The F-35B is the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft variant designed to operate from challenging bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones.
The fifth-generation fighter jet features a unique combination of stealth, advanced radar, sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems.