UK-based pilots flight lieutenant Liam and lieutenant Chris have become the first personnel to fly the F-35 Lightning fighter aircraft after completing training.
The F-35 Lightning jet is the latest and advanced aircraft that is being procured to operate alongside the Royal Air Force’s multirole fighter Typhoon.
The F-35 is set to be managed jointly by the Raf and Royal Navy and will form a major part of the Carrier Strike group operating from the British Royal Navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
Chris said: “To fly a Lightning for the first time is almost indescribable.
“After over seven years of training in the Royal Navy, to finally get into the real aircraft and take it airborne was one of the proudest and most exciting experiences of my life so far.
“The computer systems, helmet display and sensors are at the cutting edge of what is currently possible and I’m extremely excited to work on exploiting this potential, as well as being part of its integration with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales over the coming years.”
A pilot’s first flight in the F-35 jet is required to be conducted solo due to the multi-role combat aircraft’s single-seat configuration.
Fighter pilots are currently being trained to fly the F-35 Lightning as part of a larger UK Detachment at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, US.
The arrangement with the US Marine Corps (USMC) allows for a high training rate, which is necessary to achieve the required number of qualified personnel to form the first operational UK squadron, the Number 617 Squadron, which is slated to be established this year.