The Joint Strike Fighter programme

Recently I found myself at London’s Heathrow airport having a light lunch before boarding an aircraft for Inverness. In a busy cafe, I sat at a table where someone was already eating and got talking to him.
Martin Parson turned out to be a freelance aeronautical engineer working in Preston on something called the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme which has resulted in a fighter aircraft called the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Since I have a lifelong interest in aviation, I was fascinated to hear him talk about this extraordinary project.
You’ve probably never hear of it but, at $276.5bn (£140bn), it is the world’s most expensive military project. The first flight of the aircraft was on 15 December 2006. and some 2,400 of the aircraft are expected to be in service by 2027.
Britain’s BAE Systems is one of the key players in the aircraft’s development. It has pumped $2bn into the project, with the UK expected to take delivery of 138 fighters.
Along with the US and Britain, the F-35 is being co-financed by Australia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Turkey. Total combined purchases for the F-35 could be up to 3,100 aircraft.
There are four variants of the F-35: one for the US Air Force, one for the US Navy, one for the US Marines and the fourth for the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.
If this photograph excites your interest …

… then check out this video

Both my father and my father-in-law were fighter pilots in the early 1940s. They could never have dreamt of the power and versatility of the F-35