Based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, 617 Squadron will remain as the UK’s frontline F-35B Lightning unit until 809 Naval Air Squadron stands up later this year. Officer Commanding 617 Sqn, Wing Commander Stew Campbell has a unique perspective on the 80th anniversary year, having been involved in the 70th anniversary commemorations in 2013.
On March 28, 2014, the Dambusters disbanded as a Tornado unit. Already nominated as the UK’s first frontline Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II operator, the squadron began preparations for its re-formation in April 2017, when OC-designate Wing Commander John Butcher began the process at a ceremony at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. He was temporarily based with other squadron members at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina where the first cadre of UK F-35 operators was training with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) ‘Warbirds’. The squadron formally stood up again on April 18, 2018.