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Video: “The perfect weapon system”: What to expect from RAF Lakenheath’s new F-35 squadrons

PUBLISHED: 17:13 09 January 2015 | UPDATED: 17:26 09 January 2015

RAF Lakenheath is the UK's biggest US air force base.

RAF Lakenheath is the UK's biggest US air force base.

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Residents and plane spotters at RAF Lakenheath will be getting a new sight in the skies after 2020 after it was announced the base will host two squadrons of F-35A fighter jets.

F-35A - Facts and figures

Length ......................... 51.4 ft / 15.7 m

Speed ............................... Mach 1.6

Wingspan ......................... 35 ft / 10.7 m

Wing area ....................... 460 ft2 / 42.7 m2

Combat radius (internal fuel) ..... >590 n.mi / 1,093 km

Range (internal fuel)........... >1,200 n.mi / 2,200 km

Internal fuel capacity ............ 18,250 lb / 8,278 kg

Max g-rating .............................. 9.0

Weapons payload .............. 18,000 lb / 8,160 kg

Propulsion ........................ F135-PW-100

Thrust* ............... 40,000 lb Max / 25,000 lb Mi

It will be the first time the US has hosted the jets at a European base and the area can expect to see the “perfect weapon system”, according to US defence officials.

The supersonic jet is a fifth generation fighter described as “highly agile” with “unmatched lethality and survivability” by its manufacturers, Lockheed Martin.

RAF Marham already has F-35 Lightning II aircraft, and the two bases will be working closely and sharing resources in managing the jet.

Paul Eden, aviation expert, said people can expect a “viciously noisy” plane, but one that will not be seen in the skies too often.

“It’s a very loud aircraft but most training is done with simulators - around 50 or 60 per cent.

“It will bring a whole new maintenance system with it too and that’s where the partnership with RAF Marham will come in useful.

“They will be able to share parts and knowledge and it will be an important relationship,” he said.

Two squadrons will be assigned to Lakenheath and each of the squadrons will have 24 Joint Strike Fighters assigned.

Col. Robert Novotny, 48th Fighter Wing commander, said the jet was the “perfect weapon system in the perfect country”.

“From the beginning, the United States and the United Kingdom have been side-by-side on F-35 program development. This is about continuing to work together with our allies and partners to ensure a secure future for Europe,” he said.

In addition to basing F-35s at RAF Lakenheath, there are also plans to construct shared maintenance facilities for the aircraft in Italy and Turkey.

4 comments

  • Oh dear, EDP, Marham hasn't got any F35s yet. One was due to come to the UK last year, but several engine fires in the USA grounded the fleet and delivery has been put back!

    Report this comment

    jaybaxter

    Saturday, January 10, 2015

  • Vulnerable? How are you vulnerable from a fighter jet on an airbase with massive fences patrol by heavily armed military ? I for one am looking forward to seeing these amazing aircraft. Always been a dream to go for a flight in a fighter jet

    Report this comment

    MadMonty73

    Friday, January 9, 2015

  • How lovely

    Report this comment

    A M

    Friday, January 9, 2015

  • Oh dear, cant they see that they are just making us all more vulnerable with their "perfect weapon system"? Please, somebody tell them to take them back home.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Friday, January 9, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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