VMFA-211 Lightning IIs arrived at RAF Marham

Two MAZDA flights of five VMFA-211 F-35B Lightning IIs each arrived at RAF Marham in the evening of 3 September 2020. Adverse winds and weather en route caused a delay and the transatlantic flight of the ten F-35B Lightning IIs was rescheduled 24 hours later as initially planned.

The ten F-35Bs left home base Yuma MCAS (AZ) and staged at Beaufort MCAS (SC) for the Atlantic crossing. KC-135R Startotankers GOLD62 (63-8003) and GOLD72 (62-3544), both 141st ARS NJ ANG, helped in this initial effort by refueling the F-35Bs en route.

In the morning of 3 September, the same two McGuire Field (NJ) Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst based KC-135Rs overflew Beaufort and dragged two cells of five Lightnings IIs towards the north east hugging the east coast. This time GOLD62/72 launched from Robins AFB (GA). They eventually turned around after passing gas to the ten customers all the way to Newfoundland, Canada and recovered at McGuire AFB (NJ).

In the mean time two KC-10As, GOLD61 (86-0032) and GOLD71 (84-0192), both 305th AMW, prepared to take-off from Bangor (ME) to meet the gaggle of fighter aircraft and release the two KC-135Rs. They had prepositioned from home base McGuire AFB (NJ) to Bangor on 31 August 2020.

MAZDA11 to MAZDA 15 was dragged by GOLD61 one and behind followed MAZDA21 to MAZDA 25 with GOLD71 in the lead. After crossing the Atlantic, the flights started to descent between Scotland and East Anglia (UK). The two KC-10A Extenders left their customers and landed at RAF Mildenhall.

Time for the real deal, the ten VMFA-211 Lightning IIs are:

MAZDA11 169621/CF-01, special markings
MAZDA12 169608/CF-07
MAZDA13 169589/CF-04
MAZDA14 169607/CF-06
MAZDA15 169610/CF-08

MAZDA21 169620/CF-00
MAZDA22 169414/CF-25
MAZDA23 169587/CF-02
MAZDA24 169614/CF-09
MAZDA25 169588/CF-03

The USMC F-35Bs will participate in the exercise Crimson Ocean on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth. See Heads up! .... USMC F-35B Lightning IIs to RAF Marham

Serial information: Dean Bartram

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