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F-35 fighter jet declares emergency on routine flight

Undated handout photo issued by the MoD of one of the UK's first F-35B Lightning II aircraft in flight. Gavin Williamson has announced that Britain's cutting-edge stealth fighter jets are expected to touch down in the UK early next month. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday May 16, 2018. The Defence Secretary confirmed the imminent arrival of the multimillion-pound supersonic warplanes during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the daring Dambusters raid. See PA story DEFENCE F35. Photo credit should read: SAC Tim Laurence/MoD/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

By Sam Russell, Press Association

An F-35 Lightning fighter jet based at RAF Marham in Norfolk declared an emergency while on a routine flight near its base.

It landed safely after experiencing a "minor technical issue" on Thursday.

An RAF spokesman said on Friday: "The RAF can confirm an F35 Lightning experienced a minor technical issue during a routine flight last night.

"The aircraft landed safely."

An emergency squawk is used to identify an aircraft with a possible issue and enables it to have priority over other air traffic.

It does not necessarily mean the aircraft has an emergency, but flight safety is paramount and if there is any doubt pilots will recover to a suitable base or airfield as soon as possible.

The first of the multimillion-pound F-35s arrived at RAF Marham in June 2018 and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has pledged the UK will buy 138 in total.