An RAF F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter has touched down in Britain for the first time.
The fighter was piloted by Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols as it flew across the Atlantic accompanied by two other F-35Bs from the United States Marine Corps and supported by refuelling tankers.
The world’s most advanced stealth aircraft landed under a rainbow at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire last night.
The arrival was two years late due to technical problems, including an engine fire that forced it to pull out of an airshow and a problem with the ejector seat.
It’s expected the supersonic jets will be displayed at the royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough Air Show over the next few weeks.
The jet, which is capable of short take off and vertical landing, should enter service with the RAF and Royal Navy in 2018.
24 of the F-35Bs will be available on the UK’s new aircraft carriers by 2023.
They use radar-absorbent coatings, as well as flat surfaces, sharp edges and fibre mats to deflect radar signals, allowing it to strike the enemy before they even know the aircraft is nearby.
The technology can make it invisible to radars used in modern air-defence systems.
RAF Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols
The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
“The F-35Bs are the most advanced fast jets in the world. Whether operating from land or from one of our two new aircraft carriers, they will ensure we have a formidable fighting force.”
"They are part of our plan for a stronger and better defence - more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber - to deal with the increased threats to our country."