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WATCH: F-35 Fighter Jets Land At RAF Marham

Four of the jets have crossed the Atlantic from the US today to become permanently UK-based...

Britain's cutting-edge F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets have touched down on UK soil.

Landing at RAF Marham in Norfolk, the home base of the F-35, the fighter jets arrived two months ahead of schedule at around 8pm, with the officer commanding 617 squadron, Wing Commander John Butcher, doing so first.

The UK's supersonic aircraft have been stationed in America since their manufacture, being tested and used for training by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots.

Four of the jets have flown from US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, in South Carolina, this morning and crossed the Atlantic to become permanently UK-based:

One of the five jets which launched on Wednesday returned to Beaufort after the four destined for the UK had successfully taken on fuel from the RAF tanker escorting the aircraft - a routine decision.

Another five jets will join the aircraft at RAF Marham by the end of July and beginning of August, with the recently reformed 617 Squadron the Dambusters set to declare initial operational capability from land by the end of December.

The jets landed on the runway at RAF Marham, instead of using their vertical landing capability.

The arrival of the multimillion-pound aircraft had been expected to take place on Tuesday, but owing to what the Ministry of Defence cited as adverse weather conditions over the Atlantic and due to fears over safety, this was postponed.

An RAF spokesman said peacetime rules flight safety is always put first, and with sea states and diversion airfields unsuitable the "routine decision" was taken to postpone.

Lightning Force Commander Air Commodore David Bradshaw said this is 'an extraordinary day for the RAF and the Royal Navy':

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "These formidable fighters are a national statement of our intent to protect ourselves and our allies from intensifying threats across the world.

"With a game-changing ability to collect crucial intelligence, fight wars and tackle terrorism, these are the most advanced jets in British history.

"The work that's gone into their early arrival shows they have the people to match.

"Our defence industry and military have always been at the very forefront of technology, and today's momentous arrival of these incredible jets shows we are upholding our proud tradition of innovation while keeping Britain safe from the gravest of dangers."

RAF Air cadets, military personnel, as well as the families of those from 617 squadron and the wider base lined up on the edge of the taxiway to watch the wheels hit the tarmac.

RAF Marham
A new sign for the Lightning Force has been installed at the entrance of RAF Marham. (Picture: PA)

Britain currently has 15 F-35Bs - the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the jets - and has pledged to purchase 138 in total from American Aviation giant Lockheed Martin.

Later this year F-35 flight trials will take place off the behemoth aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, seeing British pilots fly jointly owned test jets that are currently based at Patuxent River, Maryland, off the deck.