US Military’s F-35 Fighter Jets to Make British Debut in July

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Test Flight
An F-35 Lightning II fighter jet during a test flight. (Image credit: Lockheed Martin Corp.)

The U.S. military's next-generation F-35 fighter jets will make their long-awaited overseas debut this summer at two air shows in the United Kingdom, Air Force officials recently announced.

The 56th Fighter Wing, stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, will showcase F-35A Lightning IIs at the Royal International Air Tattoo in Gloucestershire and the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire, both in July.

The summer events will be the first time the F-35s cross the Atlantic Ocean for the overseas air shows. [Supersonic! The 10 Fastest Military Airplanes]

"We're very excited about demonstrating this capability to the world," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, said in a statement. "The F-35 represents a new way of thinking about data integration, weapons and tactics. We're thrilled to highlight the program and the amazing Airmen who support this cutting-edge fighter."

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is billed as the most advanced warplane of its type yet developed, but the program has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. In July 2014, the U.S. military canceled what would have been the F-35's international air show debut after one of the planes suffered an engine fire. The United States' entire fleet of F-35s was subsequently grounded for two weeks as military leaders and aviation authorities investigated the cause of the fire, which was later determined to be from a damaged turbine blade.

At this summer's British air shows, the U.S. Air Force will also demonstrate World War II-era planes, along with aircraft from the Korean and Vietnam wars, according to military officials.

"Being a part of these heritage flights allows the world to learn more about the F-35 and at the same time see just how far air power has come over the years," Brig. Gen. Scott Pleus, commander of the 56th Fighter Wing, said in a statement. "The F-35 will be the backbone of the Air Force fighter fleet and represent the future for the U.S., our partners and allies. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to see how amazing the F-35 is."

The Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military air show, will take place from July 7 to 9 in Gloucestershire, and the Farnborough International Airshow is scheduled to run from July 11 through 17 in Hampshire.

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Denise Chow
Live Science Contributor

Denise Chow was the assistant managing editor at Live Science before moving to NBC News as a science reporter, where she focuses on general science and climate change. Before joining the Live Science team in 2013, she spent two years as a staff writer for, writing about rocket launches and covering NASA's final three space shuttle missions. A Canadian transplant, Denise has a bachelor's degree from the University of Toronto, and a master's degree in journalism from New York University.