Three new F-35B Lightning II fighters arrived at RAF Markham on November 30.
With the arrival of the new stealth fighter jets, the strength of the British F-35 fleet now stands at 21, said Air Officer Commanding No 1 Group, Royal Air Force, Allan Marshall. The UK has so far received 21 out of an order of 48 F-35 from the US firm, Lockheed Martin. Of these, 18 are being flown operationally by 617 Squadron, and for training by 207 Squadron Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF’s Marham airbase.
The fifth-generation fighter jet currently operates alongside Typhoon. A multi-role machine, Lightning is capable of conducting air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering, and air-to-air missions simultaneously.
The UK has plans to eventually have 138 F-35Bs, with 48 of those by 2025. In September, the Ministry of Defense’s most senior civil servant, Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove, however, had stated that the 138 number was the “upper limit” of how many jets would eventually be purchased, but “more than 48”, the current total order, would be bought.
Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had pledged a whopping £16.5-billion ($22 billion) increase in the military budget, which is the UK’s largest defense spending in 30 years. The British Navy will be seeing a massive boost amid the plans of purchasing Type 32 warships and continue the construction of eight Type 26 and five Type 31 frigates.
Johnson had said that the budget would re-establish the UK as “the foremost naval power in Europe” with a “renaissance of British shipbuilding across the UK”.