First British F-35 completes transatlantic crossing

The first of Britain’s next-generation stealth fighters touched down in the U.K. for the first time, the Royal Air Force announced Thursday.

The F-35B Lightning II was flown by RAF pilot and Squadron Leader Hugh Nichols across the Atlantic Ocean, accompanied by two U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs, the RAF said in statement.

The jets took off from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.

The team of American and British air crews and engineers arrived in the U.K. to demonstrate the 5th-generation aircraft’s capabilities at the upcoming Royal International Air Tattoo and Farnborough International Air Show.

The jets are slated to enter service in the RAF and Royal Navy starting in 2018, the RAF said.

“They are part of our plan for a stronger and better defence: more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber,” Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said.

The Joint Strike Fighters will fly out of land bases and aircraft carriers, Air Commodore Harv Smith, the Lightning Force Commander, said.