The British Royal Navy has taken delivery of its 14th F-35B Lightning II fighter jet at Beaufort, South Carolina, US.
Lockheed Martin was responsible for developing the F-35 Lightning aircraft, which are to be operated by the Royal Navy and the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
The fighter jets will be capable of operating on land, as well as embarking on the navy’s new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and the future HMS Prince of Wales.
Lockheed Martin UK chief executive Peter Ruddock said: “There are more than 500 UK companies in our supply chain who play a vital role in producing every F-35 and we are proud to have delivered the UK’s 14th aircraft on schedule.
“More than 260 F-35s are now flying from 14 bases around the world and we look forward to supporting the UK’s Lightning Force as they prepare to bring their F-35s to the UK and achieve initial operational capability next year.”
There are currently around 200 UK personnel based at Beaufort carrying out tests on the F-35B Lightning II aircraft and prepare them for their arrival in the UK in summer next year as part of the 617 Squadron.
Preparations are also being made to conduct the aircraft’s First of Class Flight Trials, which are slated to take place on HMS Queen Elizabeth later next year.
The programme is anticipated to attain initial operating capability (IOC) from land in 2018 with IOC Carrier Strike in 2020.