F-35B first landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth

Britain To Double Fleet Of F-35B Aircraft

It is to order a further 17 of the jets, adding to the 16 F-35Bs Britain has already.

F-35B first landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth

American F-35B Lightning II aircraft flown by British pilots were the first to land on board HMS Queen Elizabeth earlier this year (Picture: MOD).

Britain is to double its number of F-35B aircraft after ordering a further 17 of the jets.

It is part of a multi-billion dollar contract awarded to Lockheed Martin for 255 F-35 fighter jets around the globe.

The UK will manufacture 15% of all 3,000 jets planned for production.

The 17 new jets will be delivered between 2020 and 2022, adding to the 16 F-35Bs the UK has already which are based at RAF Marham and in the United States.

Britain has committed to purchasing a total of 138 of the aircraft.

F-35B first night landing
Flight trials involving the aircraft began in September (Picture: MOD).

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "I am delighted to confirm that we are doubling the size of our F-35 force into a formidable fleet of 35 stealth fighters.

"This is another massive order in the biggest defence programme in history."

F-35B jets are still carrying out flight trials with aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth off the coast of the US.

American aircraft flown by British pilots landed on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time in September.

British jets will first land on deck when the aircraft carrier returns to the UK.

The UK's F-35Bs arrived at their Marham home for the first time earlier this year, with a further jets arriving in August.