It has been announced by the Royal Air Force that their brand new F-35 aircraft have been used for operational sorties for the first time.
Flying from RAF Akrotiri on the island of Cyprus, the aircraft have carried out more than 14 armed reconnaissance missions over Syria and Iraq. It has been described by the Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt as “a really historic moment.”
The RAF added that the sorties had gone “exceptionally well” whilst the aircraft had not dropped any ordnance.
The F-35 is the RAF and Royal Navy’s first fully stealth aircraft and the UK currently has a fleet of 17 of the B model, that is the vertical take off and landing variant. Another 17 have been officially ordered whilst current plans call for the procurement of 138
Since May six airframes have been deployed to RAF Akrotiri for Exercise Lightning Dawn, designed to prove the operational capabilities of the aircraft and its crews.
During the exercise a total of 95 missions were flown whilst the aircraft flew in pairs for a total of 225 hours.
Nick Ashwell-Rice has worked in aviation and defence journalism since 2014 whilst also maintaining a career outside of the industry. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Talking Aero since its inception