LONDON (Reuters) - Britain has reached an agreement in principle to order four more of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said on Tuesday.
The formal contract, part of a plan to purchase 14 of the stealth fighters over the next five years, will be placed within the coming weeks, the ministry said. The aircraft are due to be delivered from mid-2016.
The jets will form part of Britain’s first operational squadron of F35s. It has already taken delivery of three training jets, which are based in Florida, and last year ordered a fourth, also for test use.
The MoD said the aircraft, which are capable of short take off and vertical landing, would operate from Britain’s two new aircraft carriers, which are under construction, and from Royal Air Force land bases.
“With highly advanced sensors, systems and weapons, this fifth generation stealth aircraft will offer a quantum leap in terms of capability,” Air Commodore Mark Hopkins, who is overseeing the project, said in a statement.
The contract is part of a wider agreement between the U.S. Defense Department and Lockheed for the production of a total of 43 F-35s for six different countries.
Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Andrew Osborn