The Royal Air Force’s latest aircraft the F-35B Lightning is being put through its paces alongside the B2-A Spirit Stealth Bomber in the skies around Britain.
The United States Air Force (USAF) has deployed 3 B2 Stealth Bombers to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire which in itself is a rare event but to fly alongside RAF jets, is rarer still. In fact, it is the first time that another country has been allowed to fly with these highly secretive aircraft.
The RAF has been conducting operations using the F-35B with its NATO allies as the aircraft becomes a more integral part of the UK defence plans.
Group Captain Richard Yates Chief of Staff at the UK Air Battle Staff, said: “We’re delighted that the USAF and 501st Wing Bomber Task Force are here in the UK and that our F-35 Lightning pilots have the chance to fly alongside and train with the B-2 bomber crews. This is the first time that any other country has done this.
“This flying integration builds on the work of Exercise Lightning Dawn in Cyprus and the visit of RAF F-35 Lightning to Italy in June, where in both cases it had the opportunity to prove itself among other NATO allies who also operate the aircraft.”
According to the USAF, The RAF is integral to the mission of the 509th Bomb Wing and Task Force Commander Lieutenant Colonel Rob Schoeneberg said: “The beauty of our partnerships is that we get to understand how they see the world. Working alongside international fifth-generation aircraft provides unique training opportunities for us, bolsters our integration capabilities, and showcases the commitment we have to our NATO alliance.”
Minister for the Armed Forces, Mark Lancaster added: “NATO is the bedrock of Euro-Atlantic defence, and those secure foundations continue to be reinforced by the training exercises being completed between the Royal Air Force and our special friends in the US Air Force.”