United Kingdom

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United Kingdom

A Legacy of Innovation

The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft. Their training took place at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, where British pilots and maintainers were embedded with the U.S. Marine Corps and their fleet of F-35Bs. The first F-35 squadron, 617 Sqn ‘Dambusters’, arrived at RAF Marham with their first four aircraft in June 2018, and the 207 Squadron, the UK’s Operational Conversion Unit, was stood up there in 2019.

Program Stats
  • Aircraft Variant: F-35B
  • Program of Record: 138 Aircraft
Base Location
  • Royal Air Force Base Marham
Program Milestones
  • 2012: UK's first F-35 delivered from Fort Worth, TX
  • 2014: F-35 pilot completes first UK vertical landing
  • 2016: F-35 makes Europe/UK debut at RIAT & Farnborough
  • 2018: F-35s arrive for permanent basing at RAF Marham
  • 2018: UK completes weapons flight testing
  • 2018: UK MoD declares F-35 land IOC 
  • 2018: First of Class Flight Trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth
  • 2019: 207 Squadron stood up at RAF Marham as the F-35 Lightning Operational Conversion Unit
  • 2020: First Aircraft Arrival on the HMS QNLZ
  • 2020: Royal Navy declares Maritime Initial Operational Capability
  • 2021: F-35s participate in Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment. It’s the first operational deployment of the Royal Navy’s flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the largest single deployment of F-35s in history
  • 2021: F-35Bs from 617 Squadron deploy from HMS Queen Elizabeth to support counter-Daesh operations in Iraq and Syria