One of Britain’s F-35 stealth fighter jets took off from RAF Marham today, marking the maiden flight of the multimillion-pound aircraft since they first touched down in the country.
Four of the supersonic warplanes, which had been based at US Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, crossed the Atlantic earlier this month to become permanently stationed in Britain.
And one took off from the Norfolk airbase today (Thursday), marking the first time the aircraft had become airborne in the weeks since they landed on UK soil on June 6.
The officer commanding 617 squadron, wing commander John Butcher, said the first flight was a “great step forward”, and that the jets in the skies above Norfolk will be an “increasingly familiar sight”.
Asked why it has taken three weeks to get from the initial UK landing to the first flight, he said that “in big handfuls” acceptance checks on the jets have had to be carried out.
“We have had to move them across from the American electronic servers across to ours, and do all of the data checks and make sure all of the data is there from an airworthiness perspective, to then verify those and accept them on to the squadron,” he said.
“We have had some bits of missing data during that transfer, so we have been working through that. But, this is all business as usual for us.” (end of excerpt)
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