The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have taken delivery of another three F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant Joint Strike Fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.
The arrival of the fighter jets from the United States was announced by Group Captain Phil Marr, who serves as Commander Lightning and is responsible for the flying and flight safety elements at Royal Air Force base Marham.
Although a total of 31 of the fifth-generation fighter jets have been delivered to the UK, the latest trio brings the number of Joint Strike Fighters available to the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy to 30. This is due to the fact that one airframe was lost as it crashed from Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth during the ship’s maiden deployment in 2021.
It is also worth noting that three F-35B jets remain permanently stationed in the US for testing and pilot training.
In Royal Air Force service, the F-35 flies alongside the Typhoon, providing the UK with a stealthy platform for air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air missions.
The UK currently has 45 of the jets on order, which are expected to be delivered by 2025, with a year-long delay. 2025 is also the timeline for the country’s two carrier strike groups to achieve full operating capability with the fighter.
Current UK defense ministry plans envision the purchase of another 26 airframes, which would bring the fleet to 74 jets. A contract for this second tranche of aircraft is still pending.