AIR International – June 2018

(Jacob Rumans) #1 | 9


and their families, the great
and the good from industry,
the military and politicians
including Minister for Defence
Procurement at the Ministry
of Defence (MoD) Guto Bebb
MP who told us: “The F-35 will
form the backbone of our air
power for decades to come,
and its arrival in the UK during
the 100th anniversary of the
RAF marks a truly historic
moment.” Flight-lead Wing
Commander John Butcher,
OC 617 Squadron said: “It
was a good fl ight across from

the United States, the weather
was in our favour and it felt
absolutely brilliant bringing the
jets back here today. When
you are looking to have the
fi ghting edge you need F-
and certainly F-35B - working
Royal Air Force and Royal Navy
side by side - to give us that
combat air advantage and we
can do it from the land and
sea.” The pilots were welcomed
by the chiefs of both services
destined to use the F-35, First
Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones
remarked: “Ever since aircraft

fi rst operated to and from ships,
the Royal Navy has been at the
forefront of maritime aviation
and the arrival of our fi rst F-35Bs
in the UK today, fl own by both
RAF and Fleet Air Arm pilots, is
another important milestone
on the way to restoring our
place as leaders in the fi eld
of aircraft carrier operations.”
Refl ecting the future use of the
Lightning by the Royal Air Force
and Royal Navy, one of the four
jets was fl own by Royal Navy
Lieutenant Commander Adam
Hogg who reminded everyone

of the e ort required to achieve
the milestone: “We may be the
pilots that arrived here today,
but there’s been a lot of people
[working] to enable us getting
here.” Chief of the Air Sta , Air
Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier
told us: “It’s a historic moment
and I’ve congratulated the pilots
on a long transit across the
Atlantic but it’s great to see them
here at RAF Marham. Nine tanker
brackets, 4,000 miles across the
Atlantic - what that demonstrates
is the skill and professionalism of
our pilots and our engineers.”

A lot of effort
Three Voyager tankers and one
A400M Atlas were deployed to take
the four F-35Bs from their former
home base in South Carolina to
the UK.
Voyager KC2 ZZ330, radio call
sign Ascot 9101, launched from
Charleston Air Force Base, South
Carolina and provided aerial
refuelling support to the Lightnings
during the fi rst three-and-a-half
hours of the trail along the eastern
seaboard of North America
to a position o the coast of
Newfoundland. Departing Gander,
Newfoundland, Voyager KC3 ZZ
‘Ascot 9102’ and Voyager KC
ZZ331 ‘Ascot 9103’ rendezvoused
with Lightnings ZM145, ZM146,
ZM147, ZM148 ‘Ascot 9511 fl ight’
before committing to the Atlantic
crossing, whereupon the original
tanker, Ascot 9101, landed at
Gander. Atlas C1 ZM401 ‘Ascot
4085’, launched from Bangor,
Maine, to provide search and
rescue and logistics support across
the Atlantic. The Atlas and the
two Voyagers landed at RAF Brize
Norton in Oxfordshire.

The F-35B’s three-bearing swivel
module points downward during
the aircraft’s approach, in this case
during a short, rolling landing.
The immense power generated by
the aircraft’s F135 engine and the
resultant exhaust plume blew dust
and debris close to, but not on,
the runway, all around creating an
interesting backdrop to the photo.
Sgt Nik Howe/Royal Air Force

The F-35B’s shutdown
process involves checking
many of the aircraft’s
systems including the
50-inch (1.27m) titanium
lift fan door on top of the
fuselage. Jerry Gunner
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