A PILOT from Ribble Valley has flight tested the 'most lethal' combat aircraft ever built.

Peter Wilson, who was born and raised in Whalley, has been testing the F-35 programme for more than a decade in the United States of America.

Manufacturers have deemed it the 'most lethal', 'survivable' and 'connected' fighter aircraft ever created which enhances all airborne, surface and ground based assets in the battle space and enables pilots to execute their mission and return home safely.

More than 1,000 flight test engineers, pilots and support personnel tested the aircraft's performance and flying qualities.

General manager of the F-35 program Greg Ulmer said: "The F-35 flight test program represents the most comprehensive, rigorous and the safest developmental flight test program in aviation history.

Since 2006 the fifth generation combat aircraft has operated 'mishap-free' while accumulating over 17,000 flight hour.

It has also executed more than 65,000 test points to verify the design, durability, software, sensors, weapons capability and performance for all three F-35 variants.

The F-35 will be operated by air forces across the globe, including in the UK, and some will be delivered from the BAE Systems site in Salmesbury. These will then be used by the RAF later this year.

'Whizzer' completed the final flight of its initial flight testing programme on Wednesday.

F-35 programme executive officer Mat Winter said: "Congratulations to our F-35 Test Team for delivering this new powerful and decisive capability to the warfighter.”