Six of the fighter jets left RAF Marham for RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus (Picture: Royal Navy).
RAF

British F-35s Arrive In Cyprus For First Overseas Exercise

Six F-35s left RAF Marham to fly to RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

Six of the fighter jets left RAF Marham for RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus (Picture: Royal Navy).

Six of the fighter jets left RAF Marham for RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus (Picture: Royal Navy).

F-35s from 617 Squadron have arrived in Cyprus for their first overseas exercise.

Six of the fighter jets left RAF Marham on Tuesday, bound for RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

The aircraft will take part in Exercise Lightning Dawn.

RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Cab Townsend, said: "Operating from Marham, our home base, is relatively straightforward, so we need to practise going away for when the phone goes for real that we've got the confidence we can go overseas and operate as we will do when we're required to".

"There's an awful lot here that we haven't done overseas before, which is why the exercise is so important."

Watch: The aircraft left the UK earlier this week

The exercise is designed to test the crew's ability to work in different environments, as well as stepping up preparations for its first operational carrier deployment later this year.

The F-35s will also take part in routine training sorties and are expected to train alongside allies in the region.

The arrival of the jets is the first visit of any F-35 variant to Cyprus.

RAF Akrotiri Station Commander, Group Captain Christopher Snaith, said it would be a "privilege to welcome 617 Squadron and the F-35B" aircraft.

Touch down: an F-35B arrives at RAF Akrotiri after a six hour journey (Picture: Royal Navy).
Touch down: an F-35B arrives at RAF Akrotiri after a six hour journey (Picture: Royal Navy).

Announcing the deployment in April, then-Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was an "important milestone" in the jets becoming "fully operational".

There are three F-35 variants, A, B and C - the UK uses the B variant which is capable of short takeoff/vertical landing.

Britain currently owns 17, with a total of 138 expected to be bought.

The jets, which are believed to cost £190m each, have the ability to operate from both land and sea.