The RAF stated that the newly acquired F-35B fighters were flown directly from Fort Worth in Texas, where all F-35 jets are manufactured at the Lockheed Martin facility. During the flight, the new jets conducted air-to-air refueling operation with the Voyager tanker (Airbus A330 MRTT).
The F-35 aircraft are operated by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. In the case of the Royal Navy, they are also operated from Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft. The first F-35 squadron, 617 Sqn ‘Dambusters’, arrived at RAF Marham with their first four aircraft in June 2018.
The fingerprints of British ingenuity can be found on dozens of the F-35’s key components. From the Martin-Baker ejection seat, to the Cobham refueling probe, to the BAE Systems-built horizontal tails, every F-35 has British parts incorporated from nose to tail. GE Aviation, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation / Collins Aerospace and Rolls-Royce are just a few of the more than 100 U.K.-based suppliers for the program.
As the program’s only Level 1 partner, the United Kingdom has garnered tremendous economic benefits from the F-35. British industry will build 15 percent by value of each of the more than 3,000 planned F-35s, generating significant export revenue and GDP growth. The program is projected to create and support more than 20,000 jobs across every region of the United Kingdom.