A state-of-the-art United States stealth fighter jet will fly in Britain for the first time at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the Defence Secretary has announced.

The F-35 Lightning II will make its debut in July at Fairford and will also fly at the Farnborough International Air Show. The decision to fly the combat aircraft outside of the United States for the first time, following discussions between Philip Hammond and his US counterpart, Secretary Hagel, is a demonstration of the progress with the Lightning II programme.

Around 15 per cent of every aircraft is built in the UK. Mr Hammond said: “The US and the UK have worked closely together on the F-35 project from the beginning. We are the only country that is a Level 1 partner in the project, which is sustaining tens of thousands of jobs in the UK. This fifth generation stealth combat aircraft will be a major boost to British combat air power and it is entirely fitting that the F-35’s first stop outside the United States will be in the UK – its second home.”

It comes after the Italian Air Force confirmed no fewer than five planes for this summer’s tattoo.

The weekend’s flying display will be on July 12-13.

The Air Tattoo is staged in support of the RAF Charitable Trust and tickets for the event are only available in advance.

Specially-priced Earlybird tickets for the tattoo on July 11-13, are available until May 31 from airtattoo.com or by calling 0800 107 1940. All accompanied under-16s go free and there is also free parking.