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UK to buy third F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft

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LONDON (BNS): The Joint Strike Fighter programme has got a boost with Britain recently announcing to buy its third F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft for operational testing.

The combat aircraft is being developed by the US defence major Lockheed Martin in partnership with eight other countries.

Britain will acquire the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft for operational test and evaluation.

Its decision comes at a time when other partner countries in the project, including Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy and the US, committing to procure the aircraft under production.

Britain has invested the highest amount – $2 billion – for the F-35's development. Over 100 British firms are involved in the project, including BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

“The United Kingdom's participation in F-35 Operational Test and Evaluation, and the associated commitment to purchase F-35s in early production lots, help ensure production stability as we move from the current assembly rate of one aircraft per month to our goal of one per day,” Matt Maxwell, Lockheed Martin director for F-35 Low Rate Initial Production, said.

The F-35 is a fifth-generation multi-role stealth combat aircraft capable of performing close air support, tactical bombing and air defence missions. It is being designed to replace the existing fleet of fighter aircraft of the nine partnering countries.

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