617 Squadron takes to the skies

Posted on 12 Jun 2018 and read 996 times
617 Squadron takes to the skiesRAF Marham in Norfolk has begun welcoming the first UK F-35 Lightning stealth jets; they are flying across the Atlantic Ocean this month from the USA, supported by several air-to-air refuellings.

They will be flown by members of the newly reformed 617 Squadron, which in 1943 flew the Dambusters mission.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed the imminent arrival of the F-35s during an event on 1 June at RAF Coningsby to mark the 75th anniversary of the famous Dambusters raid.

617 Squadron is currently training in the USA before flying to the UK two months ahead of schedule; it is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

Wing Commander John Butcher said: “I have the great privilege of leading a jointly manned Squadron made up of the best engineers, mission support personnel and pilots from the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.

"The original Dambuster Squadron did not know what their mission was going to be until the last moment, yet they had to make sure they were ready and that is as true for us today.

"The spectrum of missions we can undertake in the F-35 will be huge and we have to make sure we are ready to do whatever is asked of us.”

617 Squadron was originally set up for the highly-specialised mission to knock out dams and disrupt industrial production in Germany’s Ruhr Valley.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson hand-picked his bomber crews, who then went on to deploy the iconic ‘bouncing bomb’; this had to be dropped above the water behind the dams at an exact height of 60ft and a speed of 220mph.

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