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A TOP-of-the-range fighter jet which was partly built in East Lancashire is set to make its UK debut this summer.

The F-35 Lighting II will make its appearance at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) in Gloucestershire and the Farnborough International Air Show in July.

The rear fuselage and vertical and horizontal tails of all types of the F-35 Lightning II are manufactured at BAE System’s Samlesbury site, on behalf of the programme’s prime contractor, Lockheed Martin.

The Ribble Valley site manufactures parts for two of the three types of F-35 - the ‘Conventional Take Off and Landing’ (CTOL) type and the ‘Short Take Off Vertical Landing’ type (STOVL).

A Lockheed Martin spokesman said: “We are excited by this announcement and look forward to supporting the UK and US governments to make the F-35s international debut at RIAT and Farnborough a great success.”

The UK’s first operational Lightning II squadron will be 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, who reform from 2018 to be based at RAF Marham in Norfolk ahead of flight trials off the Queen Elizabeth Class Carrier later that year.

The F-35 Lightning II will be capable of undertaking a wide range of operations from intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions to high intensity combat, including air defence for a Carrier Task Group and offensive support for ground forces.

The Royal International Air Tattoo is open to the public from July 11 to July 13 and Farnborough International Air Show is open to trade visitors from July 14 to July 18 and open to the public from July 19 to July 20.