English Electric Lightning Mk.53

A picture of the English Electric Lightning Mk.53

The English Electric Lightning is the only Mach 2 domestically developed fighter operated by the Royal Air Force.  The aircraft’s design is derived from the P.1 supersonic research aircraft of 1954.  The P.1 had been designed from the start with the intent of turning it into an interceptor.  The Lightning entered service with the RAF in 1960 as a bomber interceptor with the mission of defending the United Kingdom from Soviet bombers.  Versions of the Lightning remained in RAF service until the late 1980s.  The Mk.53 variant is the export version of the F.6 version of the Lightning.  It was used by both Saudi Arabia from 1967 to 1986 and by Kuwait from 1968 to 1977.  The Mk.53 added two under wing hard points that gave the ability to carry two one thousand-pound bombs thus adding an air-to-ground capability to the aircraft.


34 ft 10 in.


55 ft 3 in.


19 ft 7 in.


45,750 lbs (loaded)

Maximum Speed

1,300 MPH

Service Ceiling

54,000 ft


850 miles


Two Rolls-Royce Avon 301R turbojets with 16,000 pounds of thrust each



English Electric

Number 5 Squadron, Royal Air Force, 1987

Serial Number

Lightning Mk.53

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