The UK is expecting the first delivery of the newest F-35B Lightning II fighter jets from the US, said Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.
In addition, Williamson confirmed that the country continues to support its commitment for the acquisition of 138 units of the F-35B aircraft, reported Forces Network.
Williamson was quoted by the website as saying: “We’re hoping that the first ones are going to arrive next week, standing up 617 Squadron.
“It’s about giving us a capability that far extends beyond any of our adversaries, and also absolutely critical in terms of the capabilities of the aircraft carrier.
“We are doing a Modernising Defence Programme at the moment to look at the whole range of capabilities. We’ve absolutely committed to 138 of the F-35B and there’s not been any change on that.”
The Lightning II fighter jets have been based in the US since their production and are currently being tested, evaluated and used for training by UK Royal Air Force (RAF) and UK Royal Navy pilots.
Four of the F-35Bs are currently stationed at the US Marine Corps (USMC) Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina. They are expected to cross the Atlantic and arrive at the air force base at RAF Marham in Norfolk, UK, reported Metro.
Following the delivery of the initial four £100m aircraft, the UK is expected to receive five additional F-35B jets at the beginning of August.
The F-35B short takeoff / vertical landing (STOVL) variant is the first supersonic STOVL stealth fighter jet in the world. It has been designed to operate from most challenging bases.