An F-35B aircraft takes off from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth on Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).
An F-35B aircraft takes off from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth on Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).
RAF

F-35 jets return to RAF Marham after defending Carrier Strike Group from simulated air attacks

An F-35B aircraft takes off from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth on Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).
An F-35B aircraft takes off from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth on Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).

F-35B Lightning jets of 617 Squadron are back at RAF Marham after deploying to HMS Queen Elizabeth on Operation Achillean.

The combat aircraft defended the Carrier Strike Group from simulated air attacks from Norwegian F-35As as part of a Joint Expeditionary Force Air Operations activity.

Op Achillean also saw Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond carrying out air defence exercises with RAF Typhoons, USAF F-15s and F-35As.

F-35B aircraft on HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).
F-35B aircraft on HMS Queen Elizabeth as part of Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).

Group Captain Phil Marr, Commander Lightning, said: "617 Squadron's latest embarkation on HMS Queen Elizabeth has been a resounding success, assuring critical high-readiness operational capability for the UK's F-35 Lightning Force and providing an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties with our Norwegian partners."

Captain Mark Sparrow RN Commander Air Group of the CSG (Carrier Strike Group) said: "Op Achillean has been a great opportunity for the Carrier Air Wing to continue the development of UK Carrier Strike following on from last year’s worldwide deployment, Op Fortis. 

An F-35B aircraft returns to its base at RAF Marham following deployment on Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).
An F-35B aircraft returns to its base at RAF Marham following deployment on Op Achillean (Picture: RAF).

"In particular, the Lightning Force have generated additional carrier-qualified pilots whilst also having interoperated with Norwegian F-35s in the North Sea.

"I am extremely pleased with how the whole team from HMS Queen Elizabeth, CSG and the Air Wing have safely and effectively integrated over a relatively short period."

Op Achillean demonstrates Nato's 5th generation maritime strike capability, with it made up of F-35 jets, as well as support from Merlin and Wildcat helicopters.

All elements of Op Achillean support and complement Nato and Joint Expeditionary Force activity.