The reformed 617 Squadron was celebrated at this year’s Royal International Air Tattoo with a flypast of the Lancaster, Tornado and F-35 Lightning aircraft.  

This unique RAF formation, which took place at last weekend’s RAF Fairford airshow, was a once in lifetime opportunity to commemorate the Tornado’s service for the last time alongside the inspirational F-35 Lightning. It was the first appearance of a British F-35 at the airshow and a chance for future generations to see the innovative aircraft.

The flypast formation was designed to celebrate the pioneers of air power during the 75th Anniversary of the Dambuster raid whilst also looking forward in the spirit of innovation to the future of 617 Squadron as they fly the F-35 Lightning.

According to a statement:

“International partnerships remain at the heart of everything the RAF does.  The men who took part in that daring raid 75 years ago included allies from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. At Fairford the F-35 Lightning represents a programme of close collaboration between the UK and her allies.”  

The Officer Commanding 617 Squadron, Wing Commander John Butcher was at RIAT to celebrate the historic occasion:

“This weekend has commemorated the link between 617 Squadron’s origins and its formation for a very unique mission, and its reformation 75 years later for another unique purpose, to introduce the F-35 Lightning into service. This is a historic moment for the RAF and for Great Britain.” 

Earlier this year Wing Commander Butcher landed the first of the RAF’s F-35 Lightnings, a 5th generation stealth combat aircraft, on British soil, taking  617 Squadron from its roots with Lancaster into its future with Lightning and beyond.


George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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