Four of the UK’s F-35Bs have just returned to the UK after a two-month exercise in Cyprus. During their time on the island, the Lightning jets flew their first operational missions over Iraq and Syria.
Before leaving RAF Akrotiri, Wing Commander John Butcher, Officer Commanding, 617 Squadron, described what it is like to fly the world's most advanced warplane.
A former Harrier pilot, Wg Cdr Butcher also instructed on the F-18 at Miramar, the Californian airbase made famous by the movie Top Gun.
His latest job sees him commanding the famous Dambusters Squadron and flying the world's newest and most advanced stealth fighter.
"It's a pretty clean, clear cockpit... there are two rather large displays," said Wing Commander Butcher describing his flying experience on the F35s.
"When you step into Lightning, it does really feel like you are stepping into the future."
"The selection process for Lightning is no different than it is for Typhoon," explained Wg Cdr Butcher.
After completing the training, the applicants then compete for the position flying either a Lightning or a Typhoon.
"It has been pretty fierce [competition] because there were such small numbers initially," he said.
However, he believes that as the number of the Lightning grows, the competition will even out. (end of excerpt)
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