Dambusters Reform to Pilot US Stealth Fighters

By Gary Cutlack on at

617 Squadron, known and immortalised as the Dambusters way back in the black and white days, is back. And it has some pretty impressive toys in the form of a batch of F-35B Lightning stealth jets. Those EU dams are going to bloody get it.

617 Squadron has been reformed and disbanded before, with the crews most recently scattered with the winding down of a Tornado unit it managed in 2014. The historic RAF division is back for action now though, with staff and support crew currently in the US learning how to to manage the F-35B Lightning planes that'll arrive in the UK to protect our skies from angry seagulls, amateur rocket PR stunts and drones.

Wing Commander John Butcher of 617 Squadron sounds as excited as he is allowed to sound by his superiors, saying: "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."

The F-35B, AKA the Joint Strike Fighter, AKA the Lightning II, will fly out of RAF Marham and will also, eventually, be based on the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales. The first are scheduled to arrive in the UK in June. [GOV]