F-35 fighter jets leave RAF Marham for first overseas exercise

F-35 Lightning fighter jets from 617 Squadron at RAF Marham have flown to Cyprus for their first overseas deployment.

The jets, which cost £100m each, took off from the Norfolk airbase on Tuesday.

The planes will spend six weeks at RAF Akrotiri as part of 'Exercise Lightning Dawn' which is designed to give crews vital experience in maintaining and flying the aircraft in an unfamiliar environment.

The Lightning aircraft arrived at Marham from the USA in June 2018 and have been in operation since January.

"It’s just over 76 years since 617 Squadron formed to conduct ground-breaking operations, and they are once again called upon to take a capability forwards for the first time," RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Townsend said.

"The exercise in Akrotiri will prove our ability to operate F-35 away from RAF Marham and allow us to learn the lessons of operating the air system whilst on deployment.

"Today’s departure reflects a tremendously collegiate effort from the RAF, Royal Navy and industrial partners who are now focused on ensuring the deployment is as successful as the preparation phase."