UK to debut F-35 Lightning II at Air Tattoo show

2 February 2016 (Last Updated February 2nd, 2016 05:24)

The Royal Air Force’s (RAF) F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will unveil its first look at the Royal International Air Tattoo to be held at RAF Fairford in July.

F-35

The Royal Air Force's (RAF) F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter will unveil its first look at the Royal International Air Tattoo to be held at RAF Fairford in July.

The display of the supersonic jet will be the first outside the US, and will be available at the air show for all the three days.

The short take-off / vertical landing (STOVL) version, F-35B, would demonstrate the Harrier-like 'hover' capability at the air show.

The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B STOVL aircraft, with the British pilots undergoing their training in South Carolina, US.

Stood up at Edwards Air Force Base in the US in February 2015, the RAF 17 Squadron is responsible for the operational test and evaluation of the UK's first F-35s.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor of the F-35 programme and the UK is the only Level 1 partner with the US. British companies, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, are participating in the development of the aircraft.

The Lightning II will provide the country with a 5th generation (low observable, supersonic, enhanced data fusion) aircraft with multi-role, all weather, day and night capabilities.

The F-35 is expected to operate for two front-line squadrons from aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales by 2023.

"Over the years, the Air Tattoo has featured the UK and European debuts of some of the world's most iconic aircraft but few will have been as important to the UK's future defence capability as the F-35."

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "The F-35s are the most advanced fast jets in the world. Whether operating from land or from one of our two new aircraft carriers - the UK's largest ever - they will ensure we have a cutting edge and formidable fighting force.

"The plan for F-35 aircraft to take part in air shows here in the UK this summer is a significant milestone, for our RAF and Royal Navy personnel training hard to fly the F-35; for British industry who are contributing an impressive 15 per cent of every aircraft; and for the British public who will have their first opportunity to see this remarkable aircraft in action."

Previously, several RAF aircraft made their debut at the Air Tattoo show, including the F-14 Tomcat in 1976, the MiG-23 in 1991, the Typhoon in 1995, the V-22 Osprey in 2006 and the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force Kawasaki P1 in 2015.

Air Tattoo CEO Andy Armstrong said: "Over the years, the Air Tattoo has featured the UK and European debuts of some of the world's most iconic aircraft but few will have been as important to the UK's future defence capability as the F-35."


Image: The first F-35s will operate from onboard Queen Elizabeth class carriers. Photo: © UK Crown.