UK takes delivery of two new F-35B fighter jets
The fifth-generation stealth jets were flown from Forth Worth, Texas, where Lockheed builds all F-35s. The two aircraft received air-to-air refuelling from an RAF A330 Voyager.
The UK’s existing F-35 fleet will receive maintenance and training support from Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems as the subcontractor under a £161 million ($204 million) deal inked in April.
The contract was signed by the US Joint Program Office (JPO) and the two companies.
The new deal aims to support the F-35 fleet until 2027, allowing the UK more freedom to operate the jets, increase the number of flying hours and deliver mission planning, training and maintenance.
2 new Lightning (F-35B) stealth fighters arrived at @RAF_Marham flown from Fort Worth, where all F-35s are built, to their new home with the support of a Voyager air-air refuelling tanker from @RAFBrizeNorton. Learn more about Lightning here: https://t.co/nd8qIaz62N pic.twitter.com/katuJUMM6J— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForce) June 23, 2023
The UK has committed to acquiring 138 F-35B STOVL fighter aircraft as a replacement for its now-retired Harrier fleet. The UK is the second-largest customer for the F-35 and the only Tier 1 partner, which means that it is eligible for 15% of the production workshare across the whole F-35 programme.
As of March 2020, London had ordered 48 aircraft for delivery through to 2024, with the remainder to be acquired through a series of Lots and in conjunction with the wider F-35 effort. The last of the current order of aircraft will be funded in 2024 and delivered by January 2025.
The total cost of the currently funded programme as reported through the UK Major Projects Report is expected to be £10.5 billion ($13.5 billion), covering aircraft production through to 2024, through-life capability development and sustainment, delivery and integration of UK sovereign capabilities and infrastructure. Annual spending was £888 million ($1.1 billion) in 2016-17, £935 million ($1.25 billion) in 2017-18 and £803 million ($1 billion) in 2018-19.
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