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Before the end of August five
more Lightnings will make the
journey from Beaufort to Marham.
The next unit to re-form will
be the Lightning Operational
Conversion Unit, No.
Squadron, in 2019, followed by
809 Naval Air Squadron in 2021.
No.617 Squadron’s initial
operating capability (IOC) from
land bases is expected to be
achieved by December. The UK
Lightning Force will not define
what it’s IOC definition is but
logically involves having at least
six aircraft available to conduct
a similar mission set as the US
Marine Corps; defensive and
offensive counter air (using
AIM-120 AMRAAM and ASRAAM
missiles), air interdiction and close
air support (using the Paveway
IV precision-guided munition),
and suppression (using the
APG-81 AESA radar and ASQ-
electronic warfare system) and
destruction of enemy air defences
(using the Paveway IV).
The various MoD agencies
involved in the first delivery
were all on the same page when
emphasising the June 6 delivery
was two months early (of the
MoD’s original programme) which
gives Britain a head start with its
impressive new weapons system.
UK F-35B Lightning IIs ZM145, ZM146, ZM147 and
ZM148 in formation over England on their delivery
flight from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South
Carolina. Cpl Tim Laurence/Royal Air Force
Approaching runway 01 for short, rolling landings.
This style of landing had not previously been
conducted by multiple F-35Bs in the UK before
June 6. Andrew Linnett/Ministry of Defence