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WASHINGTON – The US Air Force plans to send a pair of Lockheed Martin F-35As to two air shows in the United Kingdom this summer, the service confirmed Tuesday to Defense News.

The two F-35A conventional takeoff and landing jets will join a pair of US Marine Corps F-35Bs that are also slated to make an appearance at both shows.

The joint strike fighter's appearance at the two major European air shows will mark a critical milestone for the program after the jet was forced to skip its planned international debut at RIAT and Farnborough in 2014 due to an engine fire and subsequent fleet-wide grounding.

The Air Force planes will fly from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, to the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Farnborough Air Show outside London in July, Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Kelley Jeter told Defense News in a Jan. 26 email.

The F-35As will be on static display at both shows and will appear in “heritage flights” along with vintage warbirds, Jeter said.

Marine Corps spokeswoman Capt. Sarah Burns confirmed two F-35Bs will also participate in both RIAT and Farnborough this summer in a Jan. 26 email.

"The U.S. Marine Corps is looking forward to demonstrating capabilities of the F-35B Lightning II in the skies over the United Kingdom this July,” Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, Marine Corps deputy commandant for aviation, said in a statement. “A joint USMC and UK detachment, supported by the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office and Lockheed Martin, will validate overseas deployment activities and prove program interoperability.”

The Marine Corps will use lessons learned during the detachment to support the standup of the Marine Corps’ second F-35 squadron, VMFA-211, this summer and VMFA-121’s upcoming move to Iwakuni, Japan, Davis said.

Email: lseligman@defensenews.com

Twitter: @laraseligman

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