The third Lockheed Martin F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing Lightning II for the United Kingdom arrived at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., June 25 where it will be used for pilot and maintainer training.
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Roger Hardy piloted the aircraft known as BK-3 (ZM137) on its 90-minute ferry flight from the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.
“Today’s arrival of BK-3 is the latest step in delivering the F-35’s unprecedented capability to U.K. Defense,” said Grp. Capt. Harv Smyth, the United Kingdom’s Joint Strike Fighter National Deputy. “With each passing day, our ‘Lightning’ programme is maturing. In less than a year, we have taken ownership of our first three aircraft and begun both pilot and engineer training. The ‘Lightning’ truly represents a turning point for U.K.’s Combat Air capability and will dramatically increase our ability to defend national sovereignty interests and ensure security around the globe.”
The F-35 Lightning II is a 5th generation fighter, combining advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, headquartered in the U.K. The U.S. Marine Corps plans to declare Initial Operational Capability with the STOVL in 2015.
The program’s more than 500 British suppliers will build 15 percent of each F-35 produced. U.K. industry is responsible for numerous F-35 components including the aft fuselage, fuel system, crew escape system and more. Key F-35 suppliers in the U.K. include BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker, SELEX, Cobham, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation Systems and Rolls-Royce. Over the next 40 years, U.K. industry will continue to play a vital role in the F-35s global production, follow-on development and sustainment, bringing strong economic benefits to the country and generating tens of thousands of jobs.