F-35B Lightning aircraft are at RAF Akrotiri as part of Exercise Lightning Dawn.
RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Townsend said
“It’s just over 76 years since 617 Squadron formed to conduct ground-breaking operations, they are once again called upon to take a capability forwards for the first time. The exercise in Akrotiri will prove our ability to operate F35 away from RAF Marham and allow us to learn the lessons of operating the air system whilst on deployment.
Today’s departure reflects a tremendously collegiate effort from the RAF, RN and Industrial partners who are now focused on ensuring the deployment is as successful as the preparation phase”
The Lightning Force is jointly manned by both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. This training exercise will allow personnel from both services to gain vital experience in maintaining and flying the aircraft in an unfamiliar environment.
According to an RAF news release:
“The training exercise will also examine all aspects of moving this aircraft to a new location, including logistics, maintenance, and sustainment of all the equipment and crew that comes with this impressive aircraft whilst also enhancing its preparedness for its first operational carrier deployment later this year.
This exercise will be the first time a visit has been undertaken by any variant or nationality of F35 aircraft to Cyprus.”
Station Commander RAF Akrotiri, Group Captain Christopher Snaith, said
“It is a privilege to welcome 617 Squadron and the F35-B Lightning aircraft to RAF Akrotiri. This is the first overseas training deployment of the aircraft and marks another key milestone for the aircraft in UK service.
Akrotiri has been home for British Forces personnel for nearly 70 years; we are hugely grateful for the support and hospitality from the people of Cyprus and I know that all those involved in the F35 programme, both Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, are delighted to be here. What is important now is to maximise the opportunities that being in Cyprus presents and ensure we learn the lessons from what I know will be an incredibly successful deployment.”