Defence Operations UK published pictures of four UK F-35B jets in a defence formation during exercise Lighting Dawn over Akrotiri.
The jets arrived in Cyprus on May 21 to spend six weeks at RAF Akrotiri, according to the UK Ministry of Defence.
Flying in formation 📸
— Defence Operations 🇬🇧 (@DefenceOps) June 3, 2019
Exercise Lightning Dawn is the first overseas deployment for the RAF fighters.
Their crew will take in routine training and gain experience in maintaining and flying the F-35 in an unfamiliar environment, RAF Marham Station Commander Group Captain Ian Townsend said.
Owned and operated by the RAF, the Lightning Force is jointly manned by both the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. This training exercise will allow personnel from both services to gain vital experience in maintaining and flying the aircraft in an unfamiliar environment.
The exercise will also examine all aspects of moving this aircraft to a new location, including logistics, maintenance, and sustainment of all the equipment and crew that comes with this impressive aircraft, whilst also enhancing its preparedness for its first operational carrier deployment.
The @bfcyprus Field Gun Crew pictured with the #F35UK 5th generation multi-role stealth aircraft, as they both took a break from training at RAF Akrotiri. The crew will compete in the @RoyalNavy FG competition, while the #F35UK continues to train on its first overseas exercise. pic.twitter.com/ckZWL3GYyq
— RAF Akrotiri (@RAFAkrotiri) May 31, 2019
According to the UK Ministry of Defence, the Lightning, as the aircraft is known in the UK, is the first to combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds and the ability to conduct short take-offs and vertical landings. With the ability to operate from land and sea, the F-35 forms a vital part of delivering a ‘carrier strike’ capability to the UK when combined with Britain’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers.
The UK currently owns 17 F-35B aircraft with the reformed 617 Sqn arriving back in the UK last year. More jets are due in Britain over the coming years, and there is an overall plan to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.
The F-35 is the world’s largest defence programme at over $1.3 trillion, with UK industry providing 15% by value of every one of over 3,000 jets set for the global order book. That makes the economic impact greater than if we were building 100% of all 138 aircraft which we intend to buy. The programme has already generated $12.9 billion worth of orders and at peak production will support thousands of British manufacturing and engineering jobs.