F-35B cleared for carrier operations
The F-35B short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) fighter has been cleared to use the ‘ski jump’ ramp fitted to the flight deck of the Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers, following a series of tests at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. The Pentagon has also announced that Lockheed Martin has been awarded an $11.56m delivery order to provide support for firstof-class flying trials and the release of the military permit to fly for F-35B aircraft to operate from the Queen Elizabeth- class carriers. As of mid-October, the UK had 12 F-35Bs in the US, building the UK Force ahead of trials aboard the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth next year. Two more Lightning IIs were due to be delivered by the end of the year. There are 150 British personnel working on the Lightning II programme in the US, and the F-35 integrated Test Force includes five British pilots.