The UK has declared initial operating capability of its F-35B Lightnings of No 617 Squadron plus its upgraded Eurofighter Typhoon Centurion. In an event at RAF Marham today, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that both milestones had been achieved in late December.
In terms of the F-35, it means the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy team under the Lightning Force has nine jets ready to deploy on operations if and when required around the world. For the Typhoon, the RAF has ‘a squadron’s worth’ of aircraft upgraded to P3Ea standard, which means they can carry the MBDA trio of the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Storm Shadow cruise missile and the Dual Mode Seeker Brimstone missile. This means the Typhoon is effectively able to replace the RAF’s Tornado GR4s, which will be retired in March.