F-35 Lightning aircraft take off for exercise
Royal Air Force (RAF) F-35B Lightning fighter jets have flown to Cyprus to take part in their first overseas training exercise, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 21 May.
The F-35B Lightning aircraft from 617 Squadron flew from their base at RAF Marham in Norfolk to spend six weeks at RAF Akrotiri as part of Exercise Lightning Dawn.
The UK Lightning Force is jointly manned by both the RAF and the Royal Navy. The training exercise will allow personnel from both services to gain vital experience in maintaining and flying the aircraft in an unfamiliar environment.
The exercise will also examine all aspects of moving this aircraft to a new location, including logistics, maintenance, and sustainment of all the equipment and crew that comes with the aircraft, whilst also enhancing its preparedness for its first operational carrier deployment.
The F-35 Lightning combines radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings. The aircraft is capable of operating from land and sea, and offers a carrier strike capability to the UK when combined with Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The UK currently owns 17 F-35B, and the MoD plans to procure a total of 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.
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