US Marines F-35B jets arrive in UK for long-term deployment

Ten Lightning II aircraft landed in RAF Marham, UK, on September 3, 2020.

USMC F35B RAF Marham
F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters flown by the Wake Island Avengers of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211), Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing are parked at RAF Marham, UK.

Sept. 4, 2020 - United States Marine Corps F-35B Lightning jets have arrived at RAF Marham at the commencement of a UK detachment.

Ten aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 (VMFA-211), based at Yuma, Arizona arrived last night. Known as the 'Wake Island Avengers', VMFA-211 will be working alongside 617 Squadron ahead of a Group Exercise which will see both squadrons embark on HMS Queen Elizabeth to take part in Exercise Joint Warrior.

VMFA-211 will initially conduct synthetic training in the purpose built simulators at RAF Marham to familiarise themselves with the local airspace and procedures before they take to the Norfolk skies on training sorties. They will also participate in Exercise Point Blank with USAF colleagues from RAF Lakenheath along with other NATO partners.

Throughout this preparation period personnel from both units will be in quarantine and will undergo testing to ensure they are Covid-19 free before they join the ship.

Once onboard the aircraft carrier both squadrons will initially conduct carrier qualification training to ensure all pilots are proficient to operate from the ship both day and night.

With the training complete the aircraft will then conduct Exercise Joint Warrior from aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth which will bring together multiple units to train collaboratively in preparation for Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) next year when the carrier will deploy operationally for the first time.

On completion of the exercise the squadrons will return to Marham where they will then prepare to take part in Exercise Crimson Warrior. This will allow the Lightnings to conduct high end training, alongside other platforms, in a contested and degraded environment with this years focus being on Multi Domain Operations.

RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Beck said, “It's fantastic to welcome VMFA-211 Squadron to RAF Marham for the first time and we are looking forward to working with them over the coming weeks to prepare for their deployment to HMS Queen Elizabeth.

"We are planning to undertake a qualification period and then participation in two exercises. These will really put our personnel to the test to ensure they are ready to deploy on Carrier Strike Group 21 next year and will be the opportunity to showcase the capabilities of the F-35 and its interoperability working alongside our NATO partners.

"Preparation for the arrival of 211 Squadron hasn’t been without its challenges in the current climate, but I am extremely proud of the way that our personnel have worked to ensure that all procedures have been put in place to make this detachment a success”.

USMC F35B RAF Marham

USMC F35B RAF Marham

USMC F35B RAF Marham

Marines F35B Queen Elizabeth

Source: RAF
Images: RAF, USMC

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