F-35B Jets Set To Arrive In UK Next Week
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The Defence Secretary is confident the first of Britain's F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets will arrive in the UK next week.
Gavin Williamson also confirmed there are no plans to change the UK's commitment to buy 138 of the aircraft.
"We're hoping that the first ones are going to arrive next week, standing up 617 Squadron.
"It's about giving us a capability that far extends beyond any of our adversaries, and also absolutely critical in terms of the capabilities of the aircraft carrier.
"We are doing a Modernising Defence Programme at the moment to look at the whole range of capabilities - we've absolutely committed to 138 of the F-35 and there's not been any change on that."
'UK still committed to receive 138 F-35s' - Defence Secretary.
Since their UK arrival was announced by Gavin Williamson earlier this month, the jets are being prepared for the trip - which could happen any time from June 5, it is understood.
Four of the aircraft, which cost almost Â£100m each, are due at a new purpose-built facility at RAF Marham in Norfolk.
Five more jets will follow by the end of July.
The UK's supersonic aircraft have been based at US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina since their manufacture.
They have been tested and used for training by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots.
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Wing Commander Scott Williams, the UK's senior representative in Beaufort, said the exact date of the move is yet to be confirmed and will depend on a number of factors including the weather.
Wg Cdr Williams said: "There is definitely a feeling that we have arrived very quickly to a point where we are comfortable to take some of our aeroplanes and send them back to the UK so that 617 Squadron can declare initial operating capability at the end of the year.
"For us, there is definitely a sense that the time is now right, we are ready."
Wg Cdr Williams is also the officer commanding 207 Squadron which will become the UK's F-35 training unit from July 2019.
Britain currently has 15 F-35Bs, the short take-off and vertical landing variant of the jets, based in the United States and has pledged to purchase 138 in total.Source: Google News