Aircraft

New F-35Bs Arrive At RAF Marham

The UK now owns 21 of the Lightning jets, with 18 of those based at the Norfolk site.

Three new F-35B Lightning jets have landed at RAF Marham from the United States.

The Norfolk station, which is now home to 18 of the aircraft, announced that the fifth-generation fighters had landed safely on Monday night, taking the current number owned by the UK to 21.

The jets are the latest to be delivered from the UK's overall order of 48.

RAF Marham tweeted: "Great to see the 3 brand new F-35s arrive @RAFMarham last night following their journey from the @LockheedMartin F-35 facility at Fort Worth Texas."

Members of 617 Squadron, a frontline Lightning unit joint-led by the Navy and RAF, and aircraft’s training unit, 207 Squadron, had flown the jets from Lockheed Martin’s Texas factory.

RAF Marham is home 18 of those 21 F-35s in Britain, with the remaining three in the US undergoing trials and testing.

The UK has plans to eventually have 138 F-35Bs, although Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Defence Sir Stephen Lovegrove has stated this number is the "upper limit" of how many will be bought.

The remainder of the UK's confirmed order of 48 aircraft are expected to arrive within the next five years.

The F-35B possesses short take off/vertical landing (STOVL) capability, enabling operation on short-field bases and a range of ships, including the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

Each operational Lightning squadron is expected to consist of up to about 12 jets, with up to two squadrons accompanying one of two UK aircraft carriers deployed at any one time.

The 'B' is one of three F-35 models.

One of three F-35B Lightning aircraft to arrive at RAF Marham from the US on Monday night (Picture: RAF).

Each B variant of the jet costs around $122.4m (£92m), making it the most expensive F-35 variant, although Lockheed Martin expects costs to decrease in the coming years.

The F-35B features two air-to-air missile systems and two 2,000 lb bombs and can hit Mach 1.6, more than 1,975 kilometres per hour.

The UK's F-35B programme made history in 2019 when the jets completed their first operational missions.

The Lightning jets flew alongside Typhoon aircraft over Iraq and Syria in support of Operation Shader – the UK's contribution to the fight against so-called Islamic State.

Cover image: F-35B Lightning jets newly delivered to RAF Marham (Picture: RAF).