Second F-35 Lightning squadron arrives in Norfolk
PUBLISHED: 09:10 17 July 2019 | UPDATED: 09:10 17 July 2019
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A second squadron of stealth fighters has arrived in Norfolk.
Six F-35 Lightnings flew from America to RAF Marham, where they touched down last night.
The arrival of 207 Squadron, who will join 617 Dambusters Squadron at the base, will see all training on the next-generation jet conducted in the UK for the first time.
Minister for the armed forces Mark Lancaster said: "The arrival of 207 Squadron represents another milestone in the progress of this world-beating aircraft.
"As we welcome 207 Squadron home from our US allies, the transatlantic military relationship continues to be the strongest and deepest of any two nations in the world."
Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff, said: "I was delighted to see the second squadron of the most advanced and dynamic fighter jet in our history arrive at Marham. "Being able to train our pilots in the UK is another great leap in our sovereign capability and will ensure the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy can train our pilots to fight and win with these extraordinary jets, which will sit at the heart of our country's globally deployable forces."
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Since 2013 RAF and Royal Navy personnel have trained alongside US Marine Corps counterparts at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
Six of the cutting-edge aircraft took the 10-hour flight from MCAS Beaufort in South Carolina last night.
The formation included the UK's 18th Lightning fighter jet, demonstrating the UK's progress towards meeting the projected order of 138 aircraft over the life of the programme.
The first F-35 pilot course at RAF Marham is due to commence in early-September.
Engineers are already trained at Marham's integrated training centre, which was part of a £550m investment in the station which has also seen the resurfacing of runways and the addition of new landing pads to allow the jets to land vertically.
Wing Cdr Scott Williams, officer commanding 207 Squadron said:
"After experiencing the excellent training offered by our US allies and achieving a good level of experience and knowledge across our instructors, the time is now right to move 207 Squadron from the USA to the UK. We are thoroughly looking forward to being based at RAF Marham and training our F-35 pilots here."