Five F-35 Lightning fighter aircraft from Royal Air Force (RAF)’s 617 Squadron set off from RAF Marham on Jan. 22 on a transatlantic flight to take part in Exercise RED FLAG at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, USA.
The jets were to initially land back at their former home at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort in South Carolina before continuing their journey to Nellis AFB. The jets are also accompanied by RAF’s two A330 MRTT “Voyager” aerial refueling aircraft.
According to the reports, the jets were diverted to Lajes Air Base in Azores archipelago due to some technical difficulties encountered by the RAF Voyager aircraft.
Exercise RED FLAG is a multi-national combat training exercise which is conducted on the vast bombing ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR). This will be the first time that the UK’s F-35 Lightning jets will have taken part in Exercise RED FLAG which will see them flying alongside a variety of aircraft from other nations to maximise combat readiness, capability and interoperability.
“This is another first for the Lightning Force and will give the opportunity for our pilots to really put the F-35s to the test in a combat representative environment. This training is as near to high-end operational flying as our pilots can get in a controlled environment and will really test them and the teams that support the Squadron”, said RAF Marham Station Commander Group Captain Beck.