FORT WORTH, Texas, 26 June 2013. Lockheed Martin has delivered the third F-35B Short Takeoff/Vertical Landing (STOVL) Lightning II for the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, for deployment with the Royal Air Force (RAF).
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Roger Hardy piloted the military aircraft, known as BK-3 (ZM137), on its 90-minute ferry flight from the Lockheed Martin F-35 production facility at Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., where it will be used for pilot and maintainer training.
"Today's arrival of BK-3 is the latest step in delivering the F-35's unprecedented capability to U.K. Defence," says Group Captain Harv Smyth, the U.K.'s Joint Strike Fighter National Deputy. "With each passing day, our 'Lightning' program is maturing. In less than a year, we have taken ownership of our first three aircraft and begun both pilot and engineer training. The 'Lightning' truly represents a turning point for U.K.'s combat air capability and will dramatically increase our ability to defend national sovereignty interests and ensure security around the globe."
The F-35 Lightning II 5th Generation fighter combines advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment. Lockheed Martin is developing the F-35 with its principal industrial partners, Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems, headquartered in the U.K. The U.S. Marine Corps plans to declare Initial Operational Capability with the STOVL in 2015.
The program's more than 500 British suppliers will build 15 percent of each F-35 produced. U.K. industry is responsible for numerous F-35 componentsm including the aft fuselage, fuel system, and crew escape system. Key F-35 suppliers in the U.K. include BAE Systems, GE Aviation, Martin-Baker, SELEX, Cobham, Ultra Electronics, UTC Actuation Systems and Rolls-Royce.