F-35 Lightnings depart to take part in Exercise Red Flag

Royal Navy F-35 pilots have left the UK to take part in a multi-national combat exercise in the USA for the first time.

Aircraft from 617 Squadron left their RAF Marham home for Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, via a pit stop at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.

Exercise Red Flag is a multi-national combat training exercise which is conducted on the vast bombing ranges of the Nevada Test and Training Area.

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.

Group Captain Jim Beck, RAF Marham Station Commander

This will be the first time that the UK's F-35 Lightnings will have taken part in the exercise, which will see them flying alongside a variety of aircraft from other nations to maximise combat readiness.

RAF Marham Station Commander, Group Captain Jim Beck said: "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."