US F-35Bs will begin flying off United Kingdom aircraft carriers in 2021, British Defense Minister Michael Fallon announced Thursday as a way to “return the favor.” United Kingdom Royal Air Force and Royal Navy pilots have been able to test fly F-35s off US aircraft carriers as part of the country’s “regeneration of UK carrier strike capability,” Fallon said during a joint appearance with US Defense Secretary Ash Carter in London. Beginning in 2021, US F-35Bs will start flying from Queen Elizabeth carriers. UK pilots have been operating on the USS America, using a 10-member team assigned to the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force. This team conducted a 23-day embarkation, according to a Navy release.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.