The U.K. Ministry of Defense has confirmed that its newest and most advanced fighter jet, the Lightning F-35B, has successfully completed its first operational missions.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Defense has announced F-35Bs have flown alongside Typhoon aircraft on operational flights over the skies of Syria and Iraq, as part of the ongoing fight against Daesh.
According to the statement, Royal Air Force’s F-35B fifth-generation combat aircraftmade operational debut over Syria on 16 June 2019.
The first RAF F-35B operational sorties were flown on Sunday 16 June in support of Operation Shader, the UK contribution to the Global Coalition’s counter Daesh mission in Iraq and Syria. The two aircraft conducted a patrol over Syria, and UK F-35s have flown a further 12 sorties since then.
The F-35 is the first aircraft to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings.
The Lightning force is jointly operated by the RAF and Royal Navy. With the ability to operate from land and sea, the F-35 forms a vital part of delivering a ‘carrier strike’ capability to the UK when combined with Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The UK currently owns 17 F-35B aircraft with the reformed 617 Sqn arriving back in the UK last year. More jets are due in Britain over the coming years, including the imminent arrival of 207 Sqn at RAF Marham, and there is an overall plan to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.
The programme has already generated $12.9 billion worth of orders and at peak production will support thousands of British manufacturing and engineering jobs.