RAF Re-forms Historic ‘Dambusters’ as F-35B Squadron

One of the UK’s F-35Bs practises refuelling from an RAF/10 Squadron Voyager over Charleston, South Carolina, on April 11. In-flight refuelling will be a necessity when nine of the aircraft fly transatlantic this summer with 617 Squadron to the unit’s new home at RAF Marham. MOD Crown Copyright/Ken Pike

DURING A ceremony at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, on April 17 the UK Royal Air Force’s historic 617 Squadron, the ‘Dambusters’, was officially re-formed.  The unit will be the first operational squadron to fly the UK’s F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

No 617 Squadron gained its nickname during World War Two for its famous raid on the German dams in May 1943.  Currently, the unit is training hard with the US Marine Corps’ VMFAT-501 ‘Warlords’ at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.  During this summer, it will move to its permanent home at RAF Marham, Norfolk, bringing with it nine of the UK’s F-35Bs.

To date, the UK has accepted 15 F-35Bs, serials ZM135 to ZM149 inclusive.  The Ministry of Defence announced on April 5 that Lockheed Martin had completed delivery of the 15th aircraft, ZM149, which had made its maiden flight at Fort Worth, Texas, on January 31.