A Lockheed Martin-built F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter (JSF) aircraft has successfully flown in formation with two UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons over the ranges at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California, US.

The flight represents the first time that the two multi-role combat aircraft have flown together, and was carried out as part of the F-35’s interoperability testing.

During testing, the two aircraft successfully performed their first airborne link.

The interoperability between the F35 and Typhoon is being optimised through a series of simulated scenarios led by BAE Systems on behalf of the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD).

In addition to enabling operators, pilots and engineers to ensure the interoperability of both platforms, the move also allows any refinements to be made early on in the design and development phase, eventually saving time and money in the process, according to the company.

"The interoperability between the F35 and Typhoon is being optimised through a series of simulated scenarios."

Currently under development in three variants by Lockheed, the F-35 JSF is a fifth-generation multirole fighter aircraft designed to conduct an array of ground attack, reconnaissance and air defence missions with stealth capability.

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The variants include a conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) aircraft for the US and allied air forces, a carrier version (CV) for the US Navy, and a short takeoff and landing (STOVL) fighter for the US Marine Corps and international partners in the UK and Italy.

Designed to conduct STOVL sorties to facilitate air power projection from amphibious ships, ski-jump aircraft carriers, and expeditionary airfields, the British F-35Bs are scheduled to be jointly operated by the RAF and Royal Navy from the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, and RAF Marham in Norfolk, UK, from 2018.

Image: An F-35 Lightning II accompanied by two Typhoon fighters over Edwards Air Force Base in California, US. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.

Defence Technology