As the most expensive defence project ever undertaken starts to come to fruition, the BBC has been given exclusive access to the world’s most advanced fighter jet, the Joint Strike Fighter or F-35.
Development of the next generation of warplane is already over budget and behind schedule.
Hidden in a hangar at the US Navy’s Patuxent River Air Base, in Maryland, away from prying eyes and shaded from the intense sun, US and British ground crew made the final preparations before the plane took to the clear blue skies.
RAF and Royal Navy personnel are already working alongside American crews as they conduct the final trials before it goes into production.
There’s nothing particularly unusual about the Lockheed Martin JSF’s appearance. It looks like a modern jet fighter. It’s what you can’t see that makes it so special – its software and intelligence-gathering capabilities.
Squadron leader Steve Long is the first RAF pilot to fly the single-seat plane.
He says he can’t believe his luck. He’s like an enthusiastic boy who’s just been given a very expensive toy.
Read the whole story: BBC News