UK RAF forms first front line F-35 squadron

19 April 2018 (Last Updated April 19th, 2018 12:38)

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has reformed its legendary Dambusters squadron to operate and fly the country’s latest F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

UK RAF forms first front line F-35 squadron
617 Squadron commanding officer wing commander John Butcher requests permission to reform the squadron. Credit: Crown copyright.

The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has reformed its legendary Dambusters squadron to operate and fly the country’s latest F-35 Lightning II fighter jets.

The 617 Squadron has been formed and named after 75 years of the original formation of the Dambusters squadron.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The 617 Squadron name was made famous by ‘The Dambusters’, who played such a vital role in the Second World War.

“So it is fitting that by flying the world’s most advanced fighter jets, our new squadron will be ensuring that the legend of world-leading air power lives on.

“The F-35B Lightning will defend our nation and ensure that Britain remains a pioneer in innovation, with a unique ability to adapt to this increasingly dangerous world.”

Currently training with 15 F-35B fighter jets in the US, the newly formed 617 Squadron will be the first to fly the fifth-generation aircraft in the 100-year history of the UK.

“By flying the world’s most advanced fighter jets, our new squadron will be ensuring that the legend of world-leading air power lives on.”

The squadron will return with a number of aircraft to their new base at the RAF Marham air station.

Developed by Lockheed Martin, the F-35B Lightning II is a multi-role fighter aircraft that is capable of carrying out a wide range of operations.

It is the first aircraft in the world to integrate radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds, as well as short take-off and landing capability.

Once delivered, the F-35s will be operated both by the RAF and the British Royal Navy, while they will be capable of operating from land and sea, forming a major part of Carrier Strike operating from the navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.