The U.K. military has accepted delivery of a 14th F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft from Lockheed Martin.
The F-35B flew into Beaufort, South Carolina, last week to undergo tests by 200 deployed U.K. personnel before the aircraft joins the country’s 617 Squadron by next summer, the British defense ministry said Monday.
Peter Ruddock, chief executive of Lockheed’s U.K. subsidiary, said that more than 500 local suppliers help produce F-35 jets.
The British navy and air force will jointly operate the aircraft that will be based at a military air base in Norfolk and will operate from deployed operating bases or on board Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
First of class flight trials are scheduled to take place aboard the HMS Queen Elizabeth Carrier that was commissioned early in December.
The U.K. government expects the country’s F-35B to reach initial operating capability from land sometime in 2018 and achieve a carrier strike IOC designation by 2020.