Sign of Commitment

The Britain Ministry of Defence will purchase a third F-35B test aircraft, Lockheed Martin, the strike fighter’s manufacturer, has announced. This aircraft, which Lockheed will assemble during Lot 4 production, will support the F-35 program’s upcoming operational test and evaluation phase, the company said in a release. RAF Air Commodore Graham Farnell, who leads the MoD’s F-35 team, said this purchase “reflects well” upon the F-35 program and “is a measure of the confidence” that Britain has in both the program and in the aircraft itself. Soothing words for a program that has come under the microscope of late out of concern that it is facing schedule delays and cost spikes. The F-35B is the short takeoff variant. The first two British F-35B test aircraft are being built as part of Lot 3. Overall, Britain is expected to acquire 138 F-35s for the RAF and Royal Navy.