FILE - In this Tuesday, May 21, 2019 file photo, a F-35B aircraft lands at Akrotiri Royal air forces base near coastal city of Limassol, Cyprus. Britain's defense secretary said the country's most advanced military aircraft, the Lightning F-35B, that is undergoing training at a British air base in Cyprus has flown its first missions over Syria and Iraq as part of the ongoing operations against the Islamic State group, in a statement issued Tuesday June 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

UK F-35 fighters fly missions from Cyprus over Syria, Iraq

June 25, 2019 - 6:07 am

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Britain's defense secretary says the country's most advanced military aircraft, the Lightning F-35B, has flown its first missions over Syria and Iraq as part of the ongoing operations against the Islamic State group.

A statement released Tuesday quoted Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt as saying that the jets' first operational mission from a British air base in Cyprus where they have been undergoing training since May 21 is "a significant step into the future for the U.K."

British military officials had said there were no plans for the aircraft to conduct combat missions during their stay at RAF Akrotiri.

But it was decided that they were ready to make their operational debut because of their "exceptional performance."

Officials said the aircraft didn't fire any weapons when flying alongside Typhoon jets.

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