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
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Does the RN currently have any fast jet pilots?

UK Defence Journal
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It does, yes, many are in the US currently.

Chris Power
Guest

and quite a few at Culdrose.on 736 NAS

Francis Xavier Sowerby Thomas
Guest

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

David Anthony Simpson
Guest

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
Guest

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

Chris Power
Guest
Jack William Millen
Guest

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
Guest

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

Bungy Williamson
Guest

If you had read the article and all that lol

Thomas Lovett
Guest

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
Guest

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

UK Defence Journal
Guest

Yes.

David Anthony Simpson
Guest

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

Dominic Dimond
Guest

Does it need to?????

Adam Alice Cooper
Guest

Landlocked, not bothered.

Kanishk Dhanker
Guest

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

David Bird
Guest

He’s kicking the arse out of it ?

Trevor Cook
Guest

About time he let someone else have a go ?

Stephen McGrory
Guest

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

UK Defence Journal
Guest

Come on now.

Mike Rogers
Guest

Coming to Marham✅

Robert Staple
Guest

are they def coming to RIAT?

Adrian Bennett
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Neil Hewitt
Guest

Impressive

Battle Rock
Guest

Intriguing…
…can it VTOL now?

Kevin Wells
Guest

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