Airshow fans in the UK will have a chance to see the F-35 Lightning II this summer! The US Marine Corps announced on Monday that it is planning to send two F-35s to the Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough airshows. The US Air Force also is rumored to be sending jets, though nothing has been announced yet. The visit will be not only for public outreach, but also as a test of long-range deployability and interoperability between the different countries.
The UK is a member of the multi-national F-35 partnership and currently has four aircraft operating in the US as part of their initial training. F-35s were scheduled to appear at RIAT in 2014, but a safety stand down resulting from an engine fire caused the appearance to be canceled. The massive Joint Strike Fighter program has been under incredible scrutiny in recent years, so the services are eager to get the jet out in front of the public for some positive PR, especially with the programs smaller international partners where support for program participation has come into question. USMC F-35s have performed mini-demonstrations at US shows already, and the USAF sent two of their jets to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh last summer. They have also announced that a USAF F-35 will perform in Heritage Flights at select US shows in 2016.