WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Air Force on Tuesday confirmed that it will send a pair of F-35A fighter jets to two air shows in Britain this summer, joining two U.S. Marine Corps jets and at least one British jet that are also slated to appear.
The two F-35 jets from Luke Air Force Base will be on static display at the shows, and one will participate in so-called "heritage flights" with vintage warplanes at both the annual Royal International Air Tattoo and the world's biggest air show in Farnborough, outside London in July, said Air Force spokeswoman Major Kelley Jeter.
"We're very excited about demonstrating this capability to the world," the Air Force's chief of staff, General Mark Welsh, said in a statement. "The F-35 represents a new way of thinking about data integration, weapons and tactics."
Reuters reported on Monday that the U.S. Marine Corps, Air Force and Britain would send F-35 jets to the air shows this summer, but Air Force officials did not confirm the news until Tuesday.
British officials have declined to comment.
The F-35's planned appearances at the two UK air shows come after a fleetwide F-35 grounding ordered following an engine fire that prevented what would have been the fighters' international premiere at those shows two years ago.
Lockheed is developing three models of the jet - also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, or Lightning II - with key suppliers Northrop Grumman Corp and Britain's BAE Systems Plc. Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp, builds the engines.
Besides Britain, seven other countries helped fund development of the jets: Norway, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Turkey, Italy and the Netherlands. All but Canada and Denmark have since ordered jets, as have Israel, Japan and South Korea.
Lockheed Chief Executive Marillyn Hewson told analysts on Tuesday that the company expected to deliver 53 F-35 aircraft in 2016, up from 45 in 2015.
She said Lockheed was expecting 59 or 60 F-35 deliveries in 2017, rising to around 100 deliveries in 2018.
Additional reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Alistair Bell