UK Performs First Operational F-35 Sorties

Production milestones, roll-outs, test flights, service introduction and other milestones.
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Unread post25 Jun 2019, 04:52 ... irst-time/
The pertinent parts:
The first operational sorties were flown on June 16 from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, targeting the last remnants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
The six stealth fighters based in Cyprus have conducted a total of 14 operational sorties over Syria and Iraq following a six-week training deployment in the country from May.
The F-35 aircraft have operated alongside Typhoon fighters on “armed overwatch” missions. So far the F-35s have not dropped any of the Paveway IV laser-guided bombs they have been carrying.
The new mission will be only a short-term addition to the air forces operating against Isil. The stealth fighters are due to return to their home base at RAF Marham, Norfolk, in July.
We haven't dropped any weapons from Typhoon in that period either," he added. "It is not a very kinetic phase of the operation at the moment."
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Unread post25 Jun 2019, 13:08

British F-35s Fly First Operational Missions
25 Jun 2019 Tony Osborne

"LONDON—Britain has carried out the first operational missions of its Lockheed Martin F-35s flying with Eurofighter Typhoons over Syria. The first missions took place on June 16, the UK defense ministry announced on June 25. This follows Exercise Lightning Dawn, which saw six of the nine F-35Bs currently based in the UK deployed to RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, from where they flew the sorties. At least 12 more sorties have been flown since, officials say.

This means Britain has become the third F-35 operating nation to send its F-35s into a theater, although the aircraft have not yet dropped any ordnance. Imagery released by the defense ministry shows live Raytheon Paveway IVs being loaded onto the aircraft....

...The aircraft will not remain in operations from Cyprus for long, Reuter [Air Commodore Justin Reuter, the UK’s air component commander for operations in the Middle East] said. The aircraft are due to return to the UK in the coming weeks to prepare to deploy aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth, the first of Britain’s two new 60,000-ton aircraft carriers. The carrier is located off the East Coast of the U.S. in support of the ongoing First of Class Flight Trials. The trials will enable an operational capability with both ship and aircraft by the end of 2020. A planned cruise, probably to the Far East with a U.S. Marine F-35 squadron, will also embark in late 2021.

Britain’s F-35s are operated by the Lightning Force, a construct of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel that reflect the type’s planned operation from the carriers. So far, one frontline squadron has been formed, 617 Sqdn., while a training unit, 207 Sqdn., will form in the UK during the summer, along with an increase in UK-based aircraft."

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Unread post26 Jun 2019, 14:07

Big deal here, as they took delivery not so long ago. It sure seems to be maturing quickly, and will be at least 5 (perhaps 10) years ahead of its competition in that regard.

Given the difficulties building 5th gen aircraft that we've seen, it isn't surprising. Look at the J-20. They say it's operational, but not so with the engines necessary for super-cruise, probably at least some avionics lacking or has bugs and God knows what else.


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Unread post26 Jun 2019, 15:16

Aircraft flew the sortie with an internal load of Aim-120C and Paveway IV.

No external pylons were installed however the radar reflectors were in situ. Presumably so Russian radars in theatre couldn't attempt to gather intelligence on the stealth RCS of the aircraft.

Andy Evans Aviation Photography

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