First squadron of jets will be ordered soon

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THE first squadron of stealth fighter jets to operate from the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers is expected to be ordered this autumn.

Defence minister Philip Dunne says the government hopes 48 of the F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft will have been ordered by 2020.

The Royal Air Force and the navy will operate the aircraft from RAF Marham in Norfolk and the navy’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.

Mr Dunne told the House of Commons: ‘The government will be making its decisions on the next substantial order by the time of the strategic defence review (in 2015).

‘There will be an order for the first squadron we’re expecting to be placing this autumn.

‘So by 2020, we are talking in terms of an expected order of 28 aircraft.’

Mr Dunne was replying to Labour MP Nick Smith who asked how many of the aircraft the government plans to have operable by 2020.

The UK took delivery of its first Joint Strike Fighter last July and its second in October.

The Royal Navy’s two new aircraft carriers are currently being built.

Parts of them have been put together in Portsmouth and shipped to Scotland.