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RAF Lightnings performs flights on Exercise Atlantic Trident.

| 2021

According to information published by the UK Air Force on May 27, 2021, RAF F-35B fighters from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth have been flying in a major international air exercise for the first time since the Carrier Strike Group sailed from the UK on its seven-month-long deployment.

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RAF Lightnings performs flights on Exercise Atlantic Trident Royal Air Force F35B fighters during Exercise Atlantic Trident  (Picture source: Royal Air Force)

The eight aircraft from 617 (Dambusters) Squadron flew with and against crews from France and the U.S. in simulated combat off the South West French coast. The International Exercise called 'Atlantic Trident' is aimed at increasing understanding and the ability to fly and operate together.

Supporting the exercise was the RAF’s 101 Squadron flying Voyager tankers refuelling not only UK F-35Bs but those flown by the U.S. Marines, Rafale Jets from France and RAF Typhoons operating from RAF Coningsby.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.

The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) F-35A, the short take-off and vertical-landing (STOVL) F-35B, and the carrier-based (CV/CATOBAR) F-35C.

The F-35B is the short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the aircraft. Similar in size to the A variant, the B sacrifices about a third of the A variant's fuel volume to accommodate the SDLF. This variant is limited to 7 g. Unlike other variants, the F-35B has no landing hook. The "STOVL/HOOK" control instead engages conversion between normal and vertical flight. The F-35 can also perform vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL).

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