The MoD say that F-35 jets have flown alongside Typhoon aircraft over the skies of Syria and Iraq.

It is understood however that the aircraft did not carry out any strikes.

The MoD say that the sorties follow a successful training period in Cyprus, known as Exercise Lightning Dawn, aimed at building capability for the aircraft and supporting elements.

“Due to the exceptional performance of the aircraft, pilots, and support staff during this time, it was decided that they were ready to make their operational debut from RAF Akrotiri, alongside the Typhoons.”

Lightning’s have been supporting Operation Shader, the fight against Islamic State, since June the 16th. The two aircraft conducted a patrol over Syria, and British F-35s have flown a further 12 sorties since then.

“The F-35s are the most advanced jets our country has ever possessed and will form the backbone of British air defence for decades to come,” Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said, speaking at RAF Akrotiri.

“They have passed every test their training has thrown at them with flying colours and their first real operational mission is a significant step into the future for the UK.”

Later in the year, 617 Squadron will embark on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time. The UK jets will conduct Operational Tests, alongside 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron, onboard the carrier in the USA during the WESTLANT 19 deployment, proving their capability at sea.

The MoD say that this is vital step on the path to the first Carrier Strike Deployment planned for 2021.

Admiral Tony Radakin CB ADC, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff, said:

“It’s great to see our F35B Lightning jets already proving themselves on operations so early in their life cycle, ably demonstrating the fantastic capability these world-leading aircraft offer.

This Autumn, our aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will return to the East Coast of the United States to conduct Operational Trials with our Lightning Force, taking this 5th generation capability to the next level as they prove their ability to operate from the sea.

For decades to come, this exciting new combination of aircraft carriers and F35B Lightnings will provide a potent, globally deployable carrier strike capability, a powerful conventional deterrent and the centrepiece of our country’s expeditionary forces.”

Recently, the 17th F-35B for the UK was delivered. Numbers right now are exactly where they’re expected to be and inline with the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

2 F-35B in LRIP run 3, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 4, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 7, 4 F-35B in LRIP run 8, 6 F-35B in LRIP run 9, 3 F-35B in LRIP run 10, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 11, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 12, 6 F-35B in LRIP run 13, 8 F-35B in LRIP run 14 and 7 F-35B in LRIP run 15. This brings us to 42 in 2023. The next run brings us to the total of the first batch of aircraft, 48.

It is hoped that 138 F-35 aircraft will have been delivered by the 2030s.

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Nice, so much for the F-35B having a too short range then?


F35B – 1600Km give or take or 900 Nautical Miles where the Typhoon is 2900Km approximately, so its not great but I guess it will suffice.

Numbers subject to altitude, speed etc..but you get the idea 🙂


Thx. As a comparison this web page has the range of F-18C/D model at 1300nm with external fuel tanks.

Other web sites put the Rafale’s range at about 1000nm
No payload data of course but I’m thinking the F-35B compares pretty well with the competition with the exception of the F-35C model, and the Buccaneer of course….where did it all go wrong?

Nigel Collins

Is that combat radius or ferry range?


According to this BBC story (…

“Britain currently has 17 F-35Bs and has pledged to purchase 138 in total from US aviation giant Lockheed Martin.

Six of the jets have been deployed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus since May for training exercises, in an operation known as Exercise Lightning Dawn.”

So, in answer to some discussion that was on another thread re how many were out in Akrotiri, it looks as if the answer is 6.


I thought the commenters here had known it was 6 for a little while – maybe I was wrong!


Wonder if they were armed

Nigel Collins

Gripen E
Ferry range: 3,200 km (1,990 mi)
Combat radius: 800 km (497 mi)
Note the difference between the two! What figures are we quoting for the F35-B?


I think F-35B has a range of 900nm on internal fuel.

And a combat radius of 450nm with for the UK I am guessing 2 ASRAAM and 2 Paveways.

Nigel Collins

Many thanks Paul.P

A question for the experts here on UKDJ, Could the Gripen E take off and land onboard the QE carriers unassisted using a thrust vectored EJ200/230 engine?

“The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by the … Sweden and Brazil have ordered the Gripen E/F and Switzerland initially selected it for procurement. ….. EJ200 had also been under consideration for the Gripen; proposed implementations included the use of thrust vectoring.”


I doubt it. Why do you ask? Thrust vectoring tends to bleed speed so not sure how that would help for a short take off. Even if did help, many more changes would be required. Also you can’t just change engines on planes like that, since it would most likely change the balance of the plane. And lastly the gripen is not designed for landing on aircraft carrier, you would need to modify the structure and landing gear. Landing on a pitching ship is not the same as landing on a public road 😉 Afaik, the QE does not have… Read more »

Nigel Collins

Thank you, Gandalf.

The part which mentions EJ200 had also been under consideration for the Gripen; proposed implementations included the use of thrust vectoring meant that the design could cope with such an installation? Clearly, modifications would be required to the airframe for carrier operations.

The new engine (EJ2XO) plans to increase the output with 30% more power compared to the original EJ200. The engine will have dry thrust of around 78 kN (or 17,500 lbf) with a reheated output of around 120 kN (or 27,000 lbf)


There is no doubt that the ej2000 is a very good engine, but it seems that the gripen F will be powered by the GE F414 replacing the volvo rm12. I would have thought they would have stuck with volvo for an upgraded engine. I do not know why they chose the GE engine. costs maybe? Even if the Gripen doesn’t have all the cutting edge tech other eurocanards do, it does offer a very competitive fighter for much cheaper costs, especially operating costs.

Paul T

Gandalf – the GE F414 is a logical choice,seeing as the Volvo RM12 is basically an upgraded locally produced GE F404,obviously saves costs/time etc.


Ok thx


No doubt those are great figures for the new EJ2000, but the typhoon does not lack speed, anyway it should not be the priority.
It lacks an upgraded aesa radar, and there is still no clear plan to do that, just vague words. It is time that UK, Ger, Ita and Spa governments get off their arse and roll this out ASAP with money and a clear timetable!

Glass Half Full

Worth noting from that PDF that the range figures quoted are for a USMC profile, which may mean vertical takeoff and landing, or at best rolling takeoff and vertical landing from USMC LHDs. It probably also includes some weapons bring-back ability. All of which will impact range. In UK use, the ramp launch and rolling landing may have a not insignificant positive impact on the range numbers, while maintaining the weapons bring-back at the same level.


Good point. Also I have a suspicion the numbers for range, speed and payload might actually be USMC minimum requirements rather than actual performance.


Combat Range and Radius
Thanks to its increased fuel capacity, the Gripen NG in the Combat Air Patrol configuration achieves a combat radius of 800 nm (nautical miles), or 1.500 km, from the base of operations, with more than 30 minutes “on station”. It has a ferry range of 2200 nm (4.000 km).


I wonder how many UK F35’s will be unmanned before 2030?


I doubt any. AI has not progressed enough, even if it can handle things like take off, landing and navigation, it is not ready to handle combat just yet. Also why use a f35 unmaned? You don’t need expensive, heavy and bulky cockpits in UAV. May as well develop the Taranis further


Two possible factors could steer the RAF to convert some F35 airframes. No1, the longterm pilot training costs, and social attitudes towards placing men and women into highly dangerous operations? No2, the removal of the cockpit on converted airframes would reduce weight and possibly be the most expedient use of some F35’s, if and when, the bulk of the RAF fleet could be UAV’s?


Great training opportunity and hopefully weapons are used….

Nigel Collins

Sounds like they are looking for a soft target to engage with the F35, or how the F35 and Typhoon work together as a pair?
Recent news.
“BAE Systems begins missile integration on UK F-35B fighter jets”


I would prefer weapons NOT used. NOT used may signify that something has been achieved. If we continue to drop weapons AFTER the caliphate has fallen, then it will be never ending


Flying high above the Birmingham caliphate and refraining from dropping live ordinance, is a lesson in restraint indeed.


Are these part of the 138 F35’s that we currently have ? According to the Expert who threw all his toys out his pram in an earlier thread ? You have to love a Cyber Expert/Keyboard Troll/Warrior/Idiot. Nope, Not a troll here, just someone who looks in on this public forum and occasionally thinks, WTF is this twat banging on about. So Impressed with all the experts on here.


About as much as all the other Wankers on here who spout endless Shit, day after day…… What are you achieving here? apart from Feeling like some sort of Cyber God….. FFS …. Give someone an Internet Platform and they get all self important…….. Bye Bye.


Sorry for the naive questions.
But why does the most advanced stealth 5g fighter need to be escorted by “outdated” 4g and non stealthy typhoon?
Also begs the question as to why the USAF is planning to buy upgraded F15X if the F35 is so great and rendered all other planes useless in the modern battlefield? Isn’t the f35 supposed to be cheaper and better than typhoon or f15?

Paul T

Mmm the easiest way I can try to describe it is thinking of the F35 as the Silver Bullet ( Stealth and Precision)and the Typhoon/F15x etc as the Sledgehammer (Larger Weapons carrying capability),once the F35 has made the Target area less capable a threat to Fighters the legacy 4.4 gen Aircraft can go in and do their work.


Against used toyota hilux!? Coalition planes have been operating there for years without the need for an f35 escort, seems to me it’s the f35 that needs the escort, not the typhoon