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Wed, Jan 03, 2024

Britain Gets 2nd F-35B Frontliner Unit

809 Naval Air Squadron, "The Immortals", Brought Back From Hibernation

The Brits have their second frontline-ready F-35B unit in action, bringing 809 Naval Air Squadron back from dormancy to operate their shiny new fighter.

The unit was resurrected from among 100 historic Fleet Air Arm squadrons, chosen for its "illustrious history as a strike and attack squadron". In their heyday, 809 NAS received honors from operations in the Arctic, Mediterranean, Burma, Suez, and the South Atlantic over a 41-year operational life. The recommissioning sees the number of British Lightning squadrons grow to 4: The 809 NAS, 617 Dambusters, 207 Squadron (Operational Conversion Unit), and the 17th Test and Evaluation Squadron. Royal Air Force base Marham in Norfolk hosted a ceremony transferring the Squadron Crest from retired Commander Gedge to Commander Smith, nearly 41 years after 809 was decommissioned as a Sea Harrier team.

“809 Naval Air Squadron has a proud heritage and it is therefore entirely fitting that our nation's most capable F-35 combat air force now has a second RN/RAF front line squadron which carries the 'Immortals' name into this modern era as we continue to expand our global carrier strike capability," said Second Sea Lord Vice Admiral Connell.

“It is an honor and privilege to be afforded the opportunity to command 809 NAS and lead the workup to Full Operational Capability. The Squadron has a rich history of Royal Navy / Royal Air Force integration from the days of operating the Blackburn Buccaneer at RAF Lossiemouth in the 1960’s and 1970’s, to the Falklands Conflict in 1982 and this is set to endure well into the future," said the 809 NAS Commanding Officer. "The latest re-incarnation of 'Phoenix Squadron' will see this joint service approach deliver a world-leading 5th Generation combat air capability, deployable from both land and sea.”

FMI: www.raf.mod.uk

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