F-35B aircraft

The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has placed an order with Lockheed Martin for the procurement of four F-35B Lightning II stealth combat aircraft.

The contract covers an initial four aircraft, with another ten due to be ordered over the next five years. All of the multi-role fifth generation aircraft will be operated from the Royal Navy’s future aircraft carriers and Royal Air Force (RAF) land bases.

UK Minister for Defence, Equipment Support and Technology Philip Dunne said: "Looking to the future, the investment we are making in the F-35 aircraft will ensure we are securing the skies for decades to come, providing the UK with the latest stealth technology and multi-role aircraft capability.

"The investment we are making in the F-35 aircraft will ensure we are securing the skies for decades to come, providing the UK with the latest stealth technology."

"The aircraft will be a powerful testament to the strength and capability of British industry."

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With deliveries of the first batch set for 2016, the aircraft will be stationed in 2018.

The latest procurement deal comes after the completion of initial aircraft handling tests by the UK test team for ASRAAM and Paveway IV on-board the F-35B aircraft.

Dunne added: "In addition, with the aircraft being supported and operated from RAF Marham, this will create job opportunities for the local community, as well as maintaining its key role as an RAF operating and engineering sustainment base, which will support the military and civilian workforce for years to come."

Additional contracts will cover the procurement of aircraft equipment, including engines.

The F-35B aircraft features short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) technology, as well as the latest stealth capabilities with intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) technology.

Image: An F-35 Lightning II aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, US. Photo: courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence.

Defence Technology