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UK’s F-35 has inaugural flight, but will the programme get off the ground?

The UK’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft took its inaugural flight last week at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility. During the 45 minute sortie test pilot Bill Gigliotti put the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) Lightning II aircraft through a number of functional flight checks before being officially accepted by the UK MoD. The US programme is well underway, but this is the first international F-35 to hit the skies.

This BK-1 aircraft makes up one of the three F-35 fighters the MoD has already committed to buying; two F-35Bs and one F-35C.

Throughout the Easter recess Prime Minister David Cameron has been reviewing the F-35 programme after concerns over spiralling costs have forced Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to rethink which F-35 variant presents the best value for money for the government.

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