Royal Navy jet’s future up in the air

IN THE AIR One of the F35s on a test flight
IN THE AIR One of the F35s on a test flight
Sailors honing their skills at Wellington Barracks in preparation for their Royal guard duties

‘Royal duties ahoy!’

Have your say

THE prototype of the Royal Navy’s next generation of fighter jet has taken to the skies for the first time over Texas – while the government mulls changes to Britain’s aircraft carrier programme.

The trial plane of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II is a jump jet F-35B version. This, like the navy’s old Sea Harriers, uses its engines to propel it into the air on take off and landings – known as short take-off, vertical landing.

It’s what was ordered by the previous Labour government but cast aside by the coalition in the 2010 defence review which opted for the cheaper, longer-ranged F-35C variant of the jets.

F-35Cs need catapults and arrestor wires to be fitted to a ship to help them take off and land.

However, after a study found it will cost an extra £1.8bn to fit the gear to just one of the navy’s new £5.2bn warships, it seems certain that the government will do a U-turn and buy F-35Bs after all.