The UK has received the first four of the 138 F-35 Lightning stealth jets that it’s committed to purchase from the American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin.
The aircraft flew 3,000 miles from a US Marine Corps base in South Carolina and landed in RAF Marham their new home in Norfolk.
A fifth jet had to return to the US base after facing bad weather. Five more F-35s are expected to arrive at RAF Marham in July.
The base has undergone a £550 million reorganization program to house the new fifth-generation jets, which are worth £92 million apiece.
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Once they become operational, the jets will be used by both the UK Royal Air Force and the Navy.
The Royal Navy will perform the first landing trials of the F-35s on the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier this autumn.
“Once combined with our new aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, these extraordinary jets will sit at the heart of our country’s globally deployable expeditionary forces,” said First Sea Lord Admiral Philip Jones.
Trump’s UK ambassador says London needs to invest more in the F-35 program if it wants to guarantee its security in future.
Gavin Williamson, the British defense minister, welcomed the aircraft’s arrival two months ahead of schedule.
“The work that’s gone into their early arrival shows they have the people to match,” Williamson said.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter project is the world’s most expensive weapon at over $1.3 trillion. The UK has agreed to manufacture 15 percent of every one of over 3,000 jets ordered.
London has earmarked £9.1 billion to buy 48 of the jets by 2025 and a total of 138 in the long run.
The fighter jet has been dogged by software bugs and design flaws that have led to delivery delays and budget problems.