The F-35 will make its international debut in July at the Royal International Air Tattoo and will also fly at the Farnborough International Air Show. (Lockheed Martin)
KUALA LUMPUR — The F-35 is heading for Britain in July to fly at the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough Air Show.
At least two aircraft are scheduled to make what will be the aircraft’s first appearance outside of the US.
The details are still being worked out but it is expected that one of the aircraft will be a British F-35B STOVL version already conducting training and evaluation tasks in the US.
“The US and the UK have worked closely together on the F-35 project from the beginning. This fifth generation stealth combat aircraft will be a major boost to British combat air power and it is entirely fitting that the F-35’s first stop outside the United States will be in the UK,” Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said.
The British Ministry of Defence has three aircraft, all currently based in the US undertaking training with Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots.
Orders for further aircraft will be placed over the next few years. A deal for a first tranche of around 14 aircraft has been in negotiation for some time and had been expected to be announced by now.
Britain is the only tier one partner in the F-35 program. About 15 percent of the aircraft is being built in Britain by BAE Systems and others.
The UK’s first operational Lightning II squadron, 617 Squadron, is scheduled to transition to RAF Marham in Norfolk from the US in 2018 ahead of flight trials of the Queen Elizabeth Class-aircraft carrier later that year.
The Royal International Air Tattoo is open to the public from July 11-13 and the Farnborough International Air Show is open to trade visitors from July 14-18 and to the public July 19-20.