UK F-35s land onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth
UK F-35 Lightning jets have landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time as part of operational trials being carried out off the East Coast of the US.
The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force jets have landed, taken off and hovered on the carrier, with the goal of confirming that the aircraft are compatible with the vessel. The tests involve mission planning, arming the aircraft using the ship’s Highly Automated Weapon Handling System, flying missions and debriefing on completion.
The trials follow successful developmental trials in 2018 with US military F-35 jets, where forces conducted 500 take offs and landings over their 11-week period at sea.
The landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth are part of the ‘Westlant 19’ Carrier Strike Group deployment.
Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff for Aviation and Carrier Strike, Rear Admiral Martin Connell, Royal Navy, said: ‘Embarking UK Lightning jets in HMS Queen Elizabeth for the very first time is a major milestone for Royal Navy and Royal Air Force aviation and for our development of the 5th generation Carrier Strike Group capability.’
The UK will declare Initial Operating Capability for Carrier Strike by the end of 2020. The first operational deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth 617 Squadron and a squadron of US Marine Corps Lightning jets is due to take place in 2021.
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