We are providing live coverage of the arrival of the first four British F-35Bs in the United Kingdom as they fly from the United States.
It is understood that the jets will be supported on the move by Voyager tankers. British F-35B initial operational capability is scheduled will be declared in December 2018 for land and the from the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers in 2020.
This year, the UK’s first F-35 squadron, 617 Squadron, will declare initial operational capability.
It’s no secret that British forces wouldn’t have been able to reach that goal without their partnership with the US Marine Corps. In order to train to meet operational requirements, a decision was made many years ago to integrate the training of the USMC and RAF together. About 10 years ago the UK’s Royal Air Force and Royal Navy began discussions about combining efforts on initial F-35B training with the United States Marine Corps.
Air Commodore Harv Smyth, UK Lightning Force Commander said:
“It started out as just a conversation about, ‘Wouldn’t it be a good idea to pool our resources? In the early years, we knew we’d both have a small number of jets and a small number of people training, so it just made sense to work together.”
These discussions eventually resulted in a ‘pooling implementation agreement’ between the RAF, Royal Navy and USMC.
The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy plan to operate 138 F-35B aircraft. Their training will take place at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina, where British pilots and maintainers will be embedded with the US Marine Corps and their fleet of F-35Bs.