The U.K. received a delivery of six F-35s Thursday, marking the first transatlantic flight for the fifth-generation fighter jet and reconfirming Britain’s special relationship with the U.S.
England’s exit from the European Union caused some to fear massive economic and geo-political fall. But Brexit won’t affect the U.K.’s commitment to buy F-35s, according to the program’s office headquarters in the U.S.
“The U.K. was the first country to join the F35 program, and they remain strong partners,” Joe DellaVedona, a spokesperson for the F-35 Joint Program Office told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Last year, the U.K. conducted a strategic review where they reconfirmed their commitment to purchase 138 aircraft.”
The F-35 program has overcome several technical issues over the past few years, and leaders in the military believe those difficulties are behind them.
The F-35’s European debut was canceled in 2014 because the engines would burst into flames. Reports last October revealed that when deployed, the ejection seat could cause fatal whiplash to pilots weighing less than 136 pounds. The dangerous ejection seats don’t affect any current F-35 pilots, according to DellaVedona, since none of them weigh less than 136 pounds.
The F-35 Joint Program Office has decided not to replace the ejection seats completely, but will instead implement three fixes that will make them completely safe. Once the fixes are ready, “they will be retrofitted into current seats, and then they will be put into production of future F-35 seats,” DellaVedona said.
“The F-35 is operational, and the program is rapidly accelerating,” DellaVedova said. “The F-35 is going to form the backbone of air combat superiority for decades to come.”
The jets delivered to the U.K. this week will not be in service until 2018.
F-35B Refuel Mid-Flight Over The Atlantic (Courtesy of Defense Video Imaging Distribution System)
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