RAF FAIRFORD, England (Reuters) - Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet program is on track for the U.S. Air Force to declare an initial squadron of jets ready for combat between August and December, a senior Lockheed official told reporters on Thursday.

Jeff Babione, Lockheed's F-35 program manager, said the decision was up to the Air Force, but Lockheed had delivered the airplanes required for that first squadron.

The U.S. Marine Corps declared its first squadron of radar-evading F-35 fighter jets ready for combat a year ago.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Susan Fenton)