The UK’s new F-35 multi role combat jets have used their vertical landing capability to land on new Vertical Landing Pads (VLPs), at RAF Marham for the first time…

To support the aircraft’s short take off vertical landing (STOVL) capability, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation is building three VLPs through its contractors, a joint venture between Galliford Try and Lagan Construction, at RAF Marham. The Norfolk site is the Main Operating Base for the F-35 in the UK.

The F-35’s STOVL capability will provide operational flexibility including landing on the Royal Navy’s new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. Initial flight trials of the F-35 Lightning aircraft from HMS Queen Elizabeth are on track for 2018, allowing a coherent build-up towards delivering a carrier strike capability for the UK from 2020.

Lt Col Ian Jenkins, Defence Infrastructure Organisation Project Manager for the VLPs, said: “Vertical landing is a really exciting military capability and from an infrastructure perspective it’s been fascinating to be involved in the design and construction process.

“It was really exciting and rewarding to see an F-35 landing on the first vertical landing pad to be finished and I look forward to seeing more as we continue to work on other infrastructure upgrades required for the F-35s.”

In addition to its short take off and vertical landing capability, the F-35B’s unique combination of stealth, cutting-edge radar, sensor technology, and electronic warfare systems bring all of capabilities of a fifth-generation fighter.