Two years after Lockheed Martin's attempt to give its F-35 an international debut was scuppered by an engine fire, as many as five Joint Strike Fighters will be in the UK in July to appear at two major air shows.
UK defence secretary Michael Fallon says the fifth-generation type will participate in both the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) and the Farnborough air show this summer – the two events it was forced to miss in 2014 after severe flight restrictions were imposed following the issue with an A-model's Pratt & Whitney F135 powerplant.
Both conventional take-off F-35As from the US Air Force and short take-off and vertical landing B-variants from the US Marine Corps will participate in the flying display. At least one Royal Air Force F-35B is also expected to be in attendance.
“The plan for F-35 aircraft to take part in air shows here in the UK this summer is a significant milestone – for our Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel training hard to fly the F-35; for British industry who are contributing an impressive 15% of every aircraft; and for the British public who will have their first opportunity to see this remarkable aircraft in action,” says Fallon.
The UK has an initial requirement for 48 F-35Bs, and the Ministry of Defence announced in its recent Strategic Defence and Security Review that it is committed to its plan to acquire a total of 138 examples.
"The US Marine Corps is looking forward to demonstrating capabilities of the F-35B Lightning II in the skies over the United Kingdom this July,” USMC deputy commander for aviation, Lt Gen Jon Davis, says.