Home Europe US Marine F-35Bs arrive in UK to prepare for HMS Queen Elizabeth...

US Marine F-35Bs arrive in UK to prepare for HMS Queen Elizabeth deployment

US Marine Corps F-35 HMS Queen Elizabeth
US Marine Corps F-35B jets at RF Marham. Photo: Royal Air Force

F-35B aircraft from the US Marine Corps’ V Marine Fighter Attack (VMFA) – 211 Squadron arrived at Royal Air Force base Marham on September 3 to take part in a series of unique events.

The ten F-35B jets flew from their base in Yuma Arizona via MCAS Beaufort to visit the UK for the first time.

The US Marine Corps Squadron will be working alongside 617 Squadron ahead of a group exercise in September where they will embark on the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to take part in exercise Joint Warrior.

“Its fantastic to welcome VMA-211 Squadron to RAF Marham for the first time and we are looking forward to working with them over the coming weeks to prepare for their deployment to HMS Queen Elizabeth,” RAF Marham station commander, Group Captain Jim Beck.

“We are planning to undertake a qualification period and then participation in two Exercises. These exercises will really put our personnel to the test to ensure that they are ready to deploy on carrier strike group 21 next year and will be the opportunity to showcase the capabilities of the F-35 and its interoperability working alongside our NATO partners.”

Photo: Royal Air Force

VMFA-211 Squadron will conduct synthetic training in the purpose built simulators at RAF Marham to familiarize themselves with the local airspace and procedures before they take to the Norfolk skies to fly training sorties alongside 617 Squadron in preparation for their embarkation with the carrier later this month. They will also be participating in exercise Point Blank with their colleagues from local base RAF Lakenheath along with other NATO partners.

Once onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth both Squadrons will conduct carrier qualification training to ensure all pilots are proficient to operate from the carrier during both day and night. Training will also include live and inert weapons training ahead of carrier strike group 21 (CSG21) next year which will see the carrier deploy operationally for the first time.

With the training complete the aircraft will then conduct exercise Joint Warrior from HMS Queen Elizabeth which will bring together multiple units to train collaboratively in preparation for CSG21.

After Joint Warrior, both 211 and 617 Squadrons will return to RAF Marham where they will then prepare to take part in exercise Crimson Warrior, which will allow the F-35’s to conduct high end training, alongside other platforms, in a contested and degraded environment with this years focus being on Multi Domain Operations.