Wednesday, March 27, 2013

F-35: UK announces basing plans for F-35

And the F-35 program marches on:
The UK's Lightning II stealth fighter aircraft will be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced today.
Speaking at Marham, Defense Secretary Hammond said:
Speaking from RAF Marham, Mr Hammond said: This is the next step in the restructuring of the Armed Forces, providing them with the world’s most capable combat aircraft. Basing the new Lightning II at RAF Marham makes strategic sense and best use of the resources available. It also secures the future of one of the UK’s most operationally-experienced bases.

The Lightning II is the most advanced jet our Armed Forces have ever operated, and carries on the tradition of the Harrier, while having far greater range, payload and defensive capability. Now this decision has been taken, we can start the planning and infrastructure investment required for RAF Marham’s future. 
The plan?
The UK’s first 2 Lightning II aircraft are currently participating in the US test programme and will remain in the US. We expect to receive front line aircraft from 2015 onwards with an initial operating capability from land in 2018, followed by first of class flights from HMS Queen Elizabeth later that year. 
I bring these sorts of stories to your attention because they get little play in the defense media and none among the critics of the program.  They're important milestones in the development and deployment of the world's most advanced 5th generation fighter.

What this story tells you is the UK is now fully committed to the F-35. This decision is based on their Strategic Defense and Security Review done in 2010.  What will happen now, just as it did in Yuma, AZ before the USMC stood up its first operational F-35 squadron, is the building and installing of the infrastructure necessary to support F-35s.

Critics would like you to believe the F-35's future is tenuous at best.  Stories like this and the one about the USAF beginning its OT&E argue in very concrete terms that the opposite is really the truth.


No comments:

Post a Comment