Defence in the media: Thursday 17 May 2018

Today’s defence news includes reporting on the 75th Anniversary of the heroic WW2 Dambusters raid and the F-35 programme.


There is widespread coverage of yesterday’s events to mark the 75th Anniversary of the WW2 Dambusters raid, including in the Sun, Mirror, Times, Telegraph, Star, Express, Scotsman, Guardian, Independent and Glasgow Herald.

Coverage includes disappointment that the Lancaster flypast was unavoidably cancelled due to poor weather,  but most focus on the memorial aspect and the pictures of the last surviving member of the Dambusters, George ‘Johnny’ Johnson. There were references to the announcement that the F-35 jets will start arriving in the UK in June.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“75 years ago the Dambusters pushed the boundaries of what was possible. That same spirit of innovation continues today as the Dambusters of today prepare to fly the world’s most advanced fighter jet in the skies over the UK.  Just like those Lancasters which played such a vital role in the Second World War, the F-35B Lightning is based on great British design, operating with futuristic technology to adapt to an increasingly dangerous world.”


The Daily Telegraph reports on the multi-billion pound deal to buy new generation US fighter jets. The paper speculates that the Modernising Defence Programme and Combat Air Strategy, both due to be published in the Summer, will cast doubts on the affordability of the further 90 F-35s the UK has committed to.

An MOD spokesperson said:

“The F-35 programme remains on track and within budget, providing a game-changing capability for our Armed Forces. We continue to drive down costs with every purchase and remain committed to purchasing 138 F-35 Lightning aircraft while British industry benefits from an order book of over 3,000 jets.”

Image of the Day

Stock image of 617 Squadron's Commanding Officer, Wing Commander John Butcher at USMC base in Beaufort, South Carolina.
617 Squadron, commonly referred to as the 'Dambusters' were originally set up for the highly-specialised mission to knock out dams and disrupt industrial production in the Ruhr Valley of Germany.