The UK defense ministry announced it has ordered an additional 17 F-35 stealth jets, doubling the total number of aircraft ordered.
The 17 new F-35B aircraft will be delivered between 2020 and 2022 and will complement the 16 British aircraft currently based at RAF Marham and in the US, as well as two additional aircraft which are already on order.
Overall, the UK has committed to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the program.
“I am delighted to confirm that we are doubling the size of our F-35 force into a formidable fleet of 35 stealth fighters,” UK defense secretary Gavin Williamson said. “Our military and industry are playing a leading role in the F-35 program. We are now building this game-changing capability that will soon be ready for frontline action. This programme is set to bring an immense boost of £35 billion into the British economy, and it will be welcome news to our firms that many more jets are now set for production.”
The 17 jets being ordered are part of a $6 billion contract for 255 aircraft being built for the global F-35 enterprise.
News of this latest order comes as F-35B aircraft are currently embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth for flying trials in the US, which continue to progress well. The fighter jets will be jointly manned by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy and can operate from land and sea, forming a vital part of Carrier Strike when operating from the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.