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Tanker problems had delayed the deployment of British and American F-35 aircraft to the UK by two days, the aircraft are now understood to be on their way.

The British and American aircraft are heading to the UK for two major airshows.

Air Mobility Command spokesman Capt. Nick Plante told Aviation Week here:

“During the preflight checks a maintenance issue with the refueling system was identified. A maintenance team was dispatched and the problem is now resolved.”

The aircraft has now reportedly departed, two days after its originally scheduled departure.

The US Marine Corps had revealed plans last year regarding sending a pair of F-35B’s to two air shows in Britain this summer, it is understood that this is in addition to one British aircraft.

Deputy Commandant for Aviation Lieutenant General Jon Davis said:

“The US Marine Corps is looking forward to demonstrating the capabilities of the F-35B Lightning II in the skies over the United Kingdom this July.”

It is understood that the joint US Marine Corps and UK detachment will “utilise the flights in order to validate foreign deployment activities and to prove program interoperability.”

The UK will build a front-line fleet of four F-35 squadrons with each squadron having 12 jets. A fifth unit, an operational conversion unit, will also operate 12 aircraft. In 2015, the UK government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed a planned order of 138 F-35s, with 23 of them to be available for carrier duties by 2023.

The UK will have an operational fleet of around 63 aircraft which is less than half of the total number of F-35’s that the UK has agreed to purchase However, the total number wILL cover attrition replacements and the sustainment fleet.

The programme is progressing at a steady rate with the Royal Air Force recently starting in-flight refuelling clearance trials of its Voyager tanker with the F-35.

The F-35B’s maiden operational deployment is set for late 2017 and it’s bound for the Western Pacific. The jet will deploy aboard an amphibious assault ship. The F-35B has already flown from American assault ships as part of a series of tests, which largely went well.

 

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