Squadron Leader Andy Edgell is currently testing F-35 jets in the United States ahead of their trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth next year.
“She’s marvellous. She has an incredible amount of thrust but it’s more than just brawn that makes her so fantastic to fly – it’s the brains behind her as well.
She’s a masterful piece of engineering and it makes her so effortless to fly. It’s impossible not to be exhilarated every time. She’s a beast when you want her to be and tame when you need her to be. She’s beautiful.
The launch of the F35s from the HMS Queen Elizabeth is a once in a generation historical event. To be the first to fly off the carrier, to have a front row seat, would be an absolute privilege. It wouldn’t just be about the pilot – there are hundreds of people who have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to make this happen and the honour will be theirs too.”
There are already 150 UK personnel out in the US working with the state-of-the-art jets, and the latest course of UK pilots have just finished their ground school training and are now ready to fly the F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.
The Defence Minister also announced that last week, the first F-35 flight with the latest software was conducted on one of the UK’s F-35Bs at Edwards Air Force Base in California. This software upgrade, technically known as Block 3F, represents the full warfighting capability the UK F-35s will have at Initial Operating Capability in December 2018.
UK industry will provide approximately 15% of the value of each F-35 to be built, more than 3,000, worth some £1 billon and generating around 25,000 British jobs. The programme remains on time, within costs and offers the best capability for our Armed Forces.