The UK has formally accepted the first international F-35 Joint Strike Fighter during a ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth, Texas headquarters.
The aircraft, an F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant, will head to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida where it will be used for pilot and crew training.
The UK agreed more than 10 years ago to purchase well over 100 F-35Bs, but the mounting costs of the stealthy fighter program and growing pressure on defence budgets has raised questions about the commitment of the eight ‘partner nations’ in JSF program.
During the acceptance ceremony, UK Secretary of State for Defence announced that the country planned to order a fourth F-35 next year in addition to the three already on order. Lockheed has finished production on the second UK aircraft, which is currently undergoing test flights.