F-35B delays may leave RAF with just one deployable combat air squadron

Delays in confirming future orders of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL)-capable Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighter could leave the RAF only able to field a single squadron for combat air operations, British MPs have been warned.

In written evidence to the UK Parliament’s Defence Select Committee’s inquiry into military aviation procurement, Northrop Grumman warned that by not yet committing to going beyond the current order of 48 F-35Bs could have serious consequences. While the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has indicated that it is preparing to order a further 16 aircraft from the next production block, it has not yet formally submitted an order or approved funding for the purchase.

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