The English Electric Lightning was a fighter aircraft that served as an interceptor during the 60s, the 70s and into the late 80s. It remains the only UK-designed-and-built fighter capable of Mach 2. The Lightning was designed, developed, and manufactured by English Electric, which was later absorbed by the newly-formed British Aircraft Corporation. Later the type was marketed as the BAC Lightning.
A unique feature of the Lightning’s design is the vertical, staggered configuration of its two Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engines within the fuselage. The Lightning was initially designed and developed as an interceptor to defend the V bomber airfields from attack by anticipated future nuclear-armed supersonic Soviet bombers such as what emerged as the Tupolev Tu-22. The Lightning has exceptional rate of climb, ceiling, and speed; pilots have described flying it as “being saddled to a skyrocket”.
Following retirement by the RAF in the late 80s, many of the remaining aircraft became museum exhibits. Until 2009, three Lightning’s were kept flying at “Thunder City” in Cape Town, South Africa.