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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Does the RN currently have any fast jet pilots?

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

and quite a few at Culdrose.on 736 NAS

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

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.

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

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

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

Bungy Williamson

If you had read the article and all that lol

Thomas Lovett

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

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

UK Defence Journal


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

Dominic Dimond

Does it need to?????

Adam Alice Cooper

Landlocked, not bothered.

Kanishk Dhanker

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

David Bird

He’s kicking the arse out of it ?

Stephen McGrory

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

UK Defence Journal

Come on now.

Trevor Cook

About time he let someone else have a go ?

Robert Staple

are they def coming to RIAT?

Mike Rogers

Coming to Marham✅

Neil Hewitt


Battle Rock

…can it VTOL now?

Kevin Wells

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