F-35 is the world’s largest defence programme and UK industry is providing 15% by value of every one of over 3,000 jets set for the global order book, supporting thousands of British manufacturing and engineering jobs. The F-35 Programme was founded by eight international partners – the U.S, United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada and is managed collaboratively by the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO).
Participating in System Development and Demonstration since 2001, the UK’s first aircraft, engaged in the US-based Operational Test programme, were received in 2012. Establishing the first Front Line Lightning unit, 617 Sqn (‘The Dambusters’) arrived at RAF Marham with an initial four aircraft in June 2018. The UK has now received a total of 33 aircraft. A second operational unit, 809 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) is being established at RAF Marham.
The infrastructure project to accommodate Lightning at RAF Marham and investment in Industry partnership provides the UK with dedicated facilities and expertise on aircraft maintenance, bespoke training courses for pilots, groundcrew and engineers, and logistical and technical support for the fleet.
The value to the UK economy for manufacture, production and sustainment of the F-35 global fleet is estimated at over £50Bn through-life.