Jets set for take-off after successful trials

An RAF Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jet
An RAF Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jet

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CUTTING-EDGE fighter jets to be used on HMS Queen Elizabeth are ready for take-off after successful trials.

A total of 12 F-35 jets are undergoing tests in the US before their first flight from the 65,000-tonne carrier next year.

On Tuesday defence minister Harriett Baldwin announced the ‘game-changing’ jets had passed ski ramp trials.

Addressing the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, she said: ‘Successful ski ramp trials mean the F-35 is cleared to fly from the carrier as the momentum continues for this game-changing jet.

‘This milestone comes as our pilots and planes prepare to return from the States, ready for next year’s unforgettable flight trials from the deck of the nation’s new flagship.’

A total of 150 personnel from the UK are across the Atlantic working on the aircraft, with two more jets to be delivered by the end of the year.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) also announced on Tuesday that the latest course of UK pilots have passed their ground school training, and are ready to fly the F-35B at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.

Among those who graduated are four pilots who started F-35 training straight from their advanced pilot training at RAF Valley, and Wing Commander John Butcher, who will be the commanding officer of the RAF’s new 617 squadron - the first operational British F-35 unit.

Speaking about the jet, squadron leader Andy Edgell, part of the Integrated Test Force which carried out the tests, said : ‘She’s marvellous.’

‘She has an incredible amount of thrust but it’s more than just brawn that makes her so fantastic to fly - it’s the brains behind her as well.

‘She’s a masterful piece of engineering and it makes her so effortless to fly.’

‘The launch of the F-35s from the HMS Queen Elizabeth is a once in a generation historical event.

‘To be the first to fly off the carrier, to have a front row seat, would be an absolute privilege.’

Yesterday The News reported that bosses from Lockheed Martin had been brought before the defence select committee to explain a ‘PR disaster’ over the jets.