Test pilot Peter ‘Wizzer’ Wilson has completed the 1,000th vertical landing in an F-35B as part of ongoing flight testing of the jet.

Wizzer is the Lead Test Pilot for the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35B. He said:

“Every day, the test team carries out numerous take-offs, landings and sorties with the aim of ensuring the aircraft is performing in accordance with our expectations. To be the pilot who conducted the 1,000th vertical landing is a bit special, especially given it was Graham “GT” Tomlinson who conducted the first in 2010. 

As is usually the case, the aircraft was flawless, which makes the work very satisfying. It is of paramount importance to us that the F-35B is ready for the UK warfighter and everything we’re doing points to the fact that it’s ready. ‘First of Class’ Flight Trials on the Queen Elizabeth Class are less than 3 years from now and there’s still a lot of work to do.”

The milestone occurred at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, USA and came just 6 years since another British pilot, Graham Tomlinson, completed the first vertical landing.

It is expected that 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.

The structure of the Lightning force is now somewhat clear.

  • 17(R) Squadron is currently based at Edwards Air Force Base in the US and fills role of F-35B Operational Evaluation Unit.
  • 617 Squadron will be based at RAF Marham and will be the first operational British F-35 unit in 2019.
  • 809 Naval Air Squadron will also be based at RAF Marham.
  • 2 more unnamed frontline Squadrons are to be established.
  • 1 Operation Conversion Squadron will also be formed.

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Francis Xavier Sowerby Thomas
4 years ago

Does the RN currently have any fast jet pilots?

UK Defence Journal
UK Defence Journal (@guest_354217)
4 years ago

It does, yes, many are in the US currently.

Chris Power
Chris Power (@guest_354220)
4 years ago

and quite a few at Culdrose.on 736 NAS

Francis Xavier Sowerby Thomas
4 years ago

Chris Power What have they been doing while waiting for the F35? Forgive the daft question

David Anthony Simpson
David Anthony Simpson (@guest_354222)
4 years ago

Keeping up their skills including acting as aircraft and missile simulated targets during fleet and ship training and combat ready activities. The FAA also has operational pilots on loan with RAF and US squadrons ready to come and start training on the F35 shortly.

Francis Xavier Sowerby Thomas
4 years ago

Cheers all. Makes sense that they’d be doing something but I couldn’t figure out what!

Jack William Millen
Jack William Millen (@guest_354234)
4 years ago

The “including” part is what 736 NAS was commissioned to do. But yes, plenty of FAA fixed wing jockeys and I believe one or two Royal Marines on F/A-18Es as well

Tim Cornish
Tim Cornish (@guest_354258)
4 years ago

They also have one RN pilot currently flying with the French Navy.

Bungy Williamson
Bungy Williamson (@guest_354224)
4 years ago

If you had read the article and all that lol

Thomas Lovett
Thomas Lovett (@guest_354235)
4 years ago

its still a crap aircraft and we should never have given the yanks our harriers , then have to buy this piece of very expensive shit ,not fit for purpose , sorry rant over

Kanishk Dhanker
Kanishk Dhanker (@guest_354243)
4 years ago

Can F-35B Cross Himalayas At 60000 ft Attitude ?

UK Defence Journal
UK Defence Journal (@guest_354248)
4 years ago


David Anthony Simpson
David Anthony Simpson (@guest_354249)
4 years ago

Not that I’d want to bother with that too much…. Nice views on a sunny day maybe? ?

Dominic Dimond
Dominic Dimond (@guest_354250)
4 years ago

Does it need to?????

Adam Alice Cooper
Adam Alice Cooper (@guest_354259)
4 years ago

Landlocked, not bothered.

Kanishk Dhanker
Kanishk Dhanker (@guest_354301)
4 years ago

Dominic Dimond Yeah Mate If RAF Bomb Chinks They Have to Cross Himalayas .

David Bird
David Bird (@guest_354251)
4 years ago

He’s kicking the arse out of it ?

Stephen McGrory
Stephen McGrory (@guest_354269)
4 years ago

I’ve lost count how many times I’ve pulled out in my car… Your point is?

UK Defence Journal
UK Defence Journal (@guest_354324)
4 years ago

Come on now.

Trevor Cook
Trevor Cook (@guest_354270)
4 years ago

About time he let someone else have a go ?

Robert Staple
Robert Staple (@guest_354275)
4 years ago

are they def coming to RIAT?

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers (@guest_354276)
4 years ago

Coming to Marham✅

Adrian Bennett
Adrian Bennett (@guest_354310)
4 years ago
Neil Hewitt
Neil Hewitt (@guest_354311)
4 years ago


Battle Rock
Battle Rock (@guest_354350)
4 years ago

…can it VTOL now?

Kevin Wells
Kevin Wells (@guest_354357)
4 years ago

What about the missing escort ships to support these wonderful ships UK defence you still not answerd my query ?where are they ? Capt Kevin Wells AOBA MN