The U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) has placed an order with Lockheed Martin for the first four production F-35B Lighting II fighters for the Royal Air Force with options for up to 14 aircraft, Lockheed announced on Monday morning.
“The contract for the F-35B aircraft forms part of the MOD’s investment in Lightning II over the next five years to procure an initial 14 of these multi-role fifth generation aircraft, as well as putting in place the necessary support arrangements and infrastructure,” read the Monday morning statement.
The agreement with the MoD is tied to a larger 43-jet deal from for the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office for six other nations in the F-35 program.
The U.K. is currently testing three F-35Bs at Egland Air Force Base, Fla. and has ordered a fourth expected to deliver in 2016, according to Lockheed.
The RAF is slated to standup its first squadron of the short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) at RAF Base Marham in Norfolk, U.K. in 2018.
The U.K. F-35s will operate from both land and U.K.’s new carriers that are under construction.
“Not only does our investment in these next generation aircraft afford us air superiority, but the UK’s tier one status in the entire program provides UK industry with a unique opportunity to produce world-leading products, technologies and manufacturing expertise for coming decades,” U.K. Minister for Defence Equipment Support and Technology, Philip Dunne said in a Monday Statement.