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Lightning Gives Striking Debut Display at Air Tattoo

Published: 08 Jul 2016

Aviation history has been made today when the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II took to the skies above RAF Fairford in its highly-anticipated international airshow debut at the Air Tattoo.

Visitors witnessed the Joint Strike Fighter's first major airshow appearance outside the US, which demonstrated its Harrier-like 'hover' capability required for operations from austere land bases and aircraft carriers.

The display by the F-35B, the short take-off/vertical landing version, was the latest in a long list of legendary military aircraft that have made their UK debut at the Air Tattoo, including the Typhoon in 1995 and the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force Kawasaki P1 in 2015.

Jim Turner from Bolton said: "What can I say! The F-35 demonstration has completely blown me away. I have come all the way here especially to see it for the first time in the air and I am not disappointed. Thank you RIAT for an amazing display. To see the new F-35's with the two Typhoons and the Red Arrows doing a flypast made me cry." 

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Andy Armstrong added: "Undoubtedly, the highly advanced aircraft's debut appearance was a huge highlight of today's flying programme. The stealthy combat aircraft's display was much anticipated this year, with so many people wanting to witness this piece of aviation history. This fifth generation aircraft is the future of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy air power and it certainly didn't disappoint today."

Earlier this year Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he planned to speed up the purchase of 24 of the multi-role combat aircraft, a decision that will see two front-line squadrons operating from the UK's two new aircraft carriers by 2023. 

® Jamie Hunter

“It was an epic spectacle, as magical as anything you've ever seen in the West End, and as loud as anything you've ever heard at Knebworth.”

Jeremy Clarkson, Television Presenter

“All the thrills, excitement and noise of a Grand Prix, but in the air!”

Jenson Button, Formula 1 Racing Driver

“This is the best airshow!”

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 Astronaut

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