The United Kingdom accepted the first international Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II aircraft in a July 19 ceremony with senior representatives of the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense.
The Right Honourable Philip Hammond, U.K. Secretary of State for Defence, and Frank Kendall, U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, represented their governments.
“We are here to celebrate an important ‘first’ among so many milestones associated with the F-35 program,” said Bob Stevens, Lockheed Martin chairman and chief executive officer. “It’s fitting that our first delivery to an international partner is to the United Kingdom, because without sustained British innovation over many generations, we would not have an event to celebrate today.”
The U.K. was the first of eight international partners to join the F-35 program and plans to acquire the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft.
Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. Headquartered in the U.K., BAE Systems brings a rich heritage of capabilities to the F-35 program, including short takeoff and vertical landing experience, advanced lean manufacturing, flight testing and air systems sustainment, and is responsible for the F-35′s aft fuselage, fuel system, crew escape and life support systems. The U.K. will play a vital role in the F-35′s global production, follow-on development and sustainment over the next 40 years, bringing strong economic benefits to the country.
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. Three distinct variants of the F-35 will replace the A-10 and F-16 for the U.S. Air Force, the F/A-18 for the U.S. Navy, the F/A-18 and AV8-B Harrier for the U.S. Marine Corps, and a variety of fighters for at least 10 other countries.