RAF F-35B aircraft being refuelled 050419 CREDIT BFBS

Second Lightning Fighter Jet Squadron Arrives In The UK

RAF F-35B aircraft being refuelled 050419 CREDIT BFBS

A second training squadron of state-of-the-art F-35 Lightning jets arrived at RAF Marham on Tuesday.

The arrival of 207 Squadron will see all training on the next-generation jet conducted in the UK for the first time.

Six of the cutting-edge aircraft took the 10-hour flight from MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina.

Watch: Retired Air Marshal Greg Bagwell says the UK's F-35 programme can now continue to develop

The formation included the UK’s 18th Lightning fighter jet, demonstrating the UK’s progress towards meeting the projected order of 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster, who welcomed the aircraft at RAF Marham, said the arrival of the squadron represents "another milestone in the progress of this world-beating aircraft".

F-35B taxiing on RAF Akrotiri runway 240619 CREDIT MOD
Recently, the first British F-35s completed their first operational missions (Picture: MOD).

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff said to be "delighted" to see the second squadron arrive.

Since 2013, RAF and Royal Navy personnel have trained alongside US Marine Corps counterparts at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort.

207 Squadron will formally stand up on 1 August 2019 and the first F-35 pilot course at RAF Marham is due to commence in early September.

Engineers are already trained at RAF Marham’s Integrated Training Centre, part of a £550m investment in the Station which has also seen the resurfacing of runways and the addition of new landing pads to allow the jets to land vertically.

US F-35 Lightning jets arrive in Middle East 160419 CREDIT US Air Force .jpg
Six F-35s flew in from MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina (Picture: US Air Force).

"After experiencing the excellent training offered by our US allies and achieving a good level of experience and knowledge across our instructors, the time is now right to move 207 Squadron from the USA to the UK," said Wing Commander Scott Williams, Officer Commanding 207 Squadron.

"We are thoroughly looking forward to being based at RAF Marham and training our F-35 pilots here in the UK."

This is the third tranche of F-35s to arrive in the UK.

617 Dambusters Squadron arrived at their new permanent home last year and completed their first operational mission in the fight against Daesh in June.

The F-35 is the world’s largest defence programme and has already generated $12.9bn (£10.4bn) worth of orders.

The UK is providing 15% by value of every one of over 3,000 F-35s set for the global order book.