The British military has received three additional F-35B jets from the US as part of the 48 under contract with Lockheed Martin.
The newly-delivered aircraft, reportedly in the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, will be handed over to the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
They will fly alongside the Typhoon fourth-generation multi-role combat aircraft on air-to-surface, intelligence gathering, electronic warfare, and air-to-air missions.
Great to receive our latest three additions to the growing UK Lightning Force. Thanks to 207 Squadron for delivering. pic.twitter.com/5YAYmXTF7g
— Gp Capt Phil Marr (@CdrLightning) November 21, 2022
With three more F-35s, the total number of fifth-generation fighter jets delivered to the UK has reached 31.
However, only 26 are operational after one aircraft was destroyed in an accident, and three others are stationed in Washington for testing and pilot training.
The UK will receive the remaining 17 F-35B jets on order by 2025, a year later than originally scheduled.
Purchasing More F-35s
Apart from the 48 already under contract, the UK plans to acquire more F-35Bs to increase its fleet to 74 jets.
Once finalized, the aircraft could reportedly comprise four deployable squadrons.
“The Royal Air Force will continue to grow its combat air capacity over the next few years as we fully establish all seven operational Typhoon Squadrons and grow the Lightning II Force, increasing the fleet size beyond the 48 aircraft that we have already ordered,” the UK Ministry of Defence stated.
“Together they will provide a formidable capability, which will be continually upgraded to meet the threat, exploit multi domain integration and expand utility.”
The F-35B STOVL
Lockheed’s F-35B aircraft is a stealthy, supersonic, multi-role fighter initially developed for the US Air Force and US Marine Corps.
Part of the joint strike fighter family of F-35s, the aircraft can take off from short runways and land vertically.
The jet features advanced sensors and mission systems with low observable technology, allowing it to operate undetected in hostile airspace.
Additionally, the F-35B STOVL has integrated sensors and data-linking capability, enabling pilots to share information with other platforms and increase situational awareness.