Oct 29, 2014
UK Orders STOVL F-35s in 1st Production-standard Buy
The British have agreed in principle to order four of the F-35B to get underway an ordering process which will see the Ministry of Defence place a contract a year for four years until a multi-year deal kicks in after low-rate initial production (LRIP) lot 11.
A formal contract is expected to be signed in the next few weeks.
The contracts will be placed annually. The four aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2016. LRIP 9 aircraft will be scheduled for delivery in 2017. It's scheduled to have 18 aircraft in five years time.
Britain has already ordered four F-35Bs for testing and evaluation. Three of those jets have been delivered and the fourth is due to be handed over in early 2016. The jets are based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
All of the jets delivered to the UK’s first operational squadron will temporarily remain in the US and are planned to transition to their main operating base at RAF Marham, in eastern England, in 2018.
The British program of record is for 138 aircraft but the actual number to be purchased will not be decided until the next strategic defense and security review is undertaken in the second half of next year.
The aircraft will be used by the RAF from land bases and the Royal Navy aboard two 65,000-ton carriers now being built.
Flight trials onboard the first of the two carriers, Queen Elizabeth, are scheduled to start in 2018 with the first landings expected to take place off the US East Coast. The carrier is being fitted out at a yard in Scotland and is expected to be handed over to the Royal Navy in 2016. An operational capability including helicopters and F-35s is scheduled for 2020.
When the RAF Tornado jets are scrapped, currently scheduled for no later than the end of 2019, British strike aircraft capabilities will be shared by the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon.