British defense minister Phillip Hammond accepted delivery of his country’s first F-35 strike fighter in a July 19 ceremony at manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s aircraft facility in Fort Worth, Tex. Designated BK-1, Britain’s F-35B short-takeoff and vertical-landing aircraft is the first F-35 supplied to an international customer. BK-1 flew for the first time in April, and is slated for test and training duties at Eglin AFB, Fla. “The United Kingdom was the first partner nation to join the F-35 program and has been a tremendous partner throughout the development, testing, and the initial production,” said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a joint briefing with Hammond in the Pentagon on July 18. The British government recently ditched plans to buy the naval F-35C in favor of the F-35B. “Buying the STOVL version of the F-35 will allow us quickly to generate strike capability from our next generation aircraft carriers,” reasoned Hammond at a Center for a New American Security event on July 18. He was referring to Britain’s two planned Queen Elizabeth-class carriers. Britain plans to buy 48 F-35Bs, reports Reuters. (Includes AFPS report by Cheryl Pellerin) (Panetta-Hammond transcript)
In his final keynote address before retiring as Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force, Roger A. Towberman reflected on the progress of the Space Force and the growth still ahead at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference on Sept. 12, 2023. Watch the video or read the transcript.