Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II (ZM137) from the Royal Air Force at the RIAT 2016, RAF Fairford (United Kingdom)
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole fighters undergoing final development and testing by the United States. The fifth generation combat aircraft is designed to perform ground attack and air defense missions. The F-35 has three main models: the F-35A Conventional Take-Off and Landing (CTOL) variant, the F-35B Short Take-Off and Vertical-Landing (STOVL) variant,
and the F-35C carrier-based Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (CATOBAR) variant. On 31 July 2015, the first squadron was declared ready for deployment after intensive testing by the United States Marines. On 2 August 2016, the United States Air Force declared its first squadron of F-35As was combat-ready. The F-35 is descended from the X-35, which was the winning design of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.
It is being designed and built by an aerospace industry team led by Lockheed Martin. Other major F-35 industry partners include Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney and BAE Systems. The F-35 took its first flight on 15 December 2006. The United States plans to buy 2457 aircraft. The F-35 variants are intended to provide the bulk of the manned tactical airpower of the U.S. Air Force, Navy and the Marine Corps over the coming decades.
UK's first F-35 displayed at Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2016. The type will enter service with the RAF's 617 Sqn at Marham in 2018 followed by 809 Naval Air Sqn, and is intended to replace the Tornado and become the UK's primary strike aircraft for the next three decades. 48 are on order, of which three have now been delivered and are undergoing testing at Eglin Air Force Base (United States).
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July,
usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
The show typically attracts a total of 150.000 to 160.000 spectators over the weekend.