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First F-35Bs Operate off of HMS Queen Elizabeth

First F-35Bs Operate off of HMS Queen Elizabeth. The F-35B Lightning Jets Landing on and Launching From Britain’s Newest Carrier for the First Time

Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and RAF Squadron Leader Andy Edgell were the first pilots to land their F-35 Lightning stealth jets on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The first landings and subsequent take-offs from HMS Queen Elizabeth “are the culmination of a British endeavor lasting more than a decade to bring an aircraft carrier back to the UK’s arsenal,” says an official U.S. DoD release.

According to the ITF, the tests “will evaluate jet performance on over 200 test points during different weather and sea conditions as well as the aircraft’s integration with the ship. A third FOCFT (FW) phase followed by operational testing is scheduled for 2019.”

The first landings were performed as HMS Queen Elizabeth operated off the U.S. East Coast. The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth in August, crossing the Atlantic to conduct the flying trials and joint training with the US Navy. The flight trials are scheduled to take around 11 weeks and +500 take-off and landings. The target is to be ready for a deployment from 2021.

 

The first landings were performed as HMS Queen Elizabeth operated off the U.S. East Coast. The aircraft carrier left Portsmouth in August, crossing the Atlantic to conduct the flying trials and joint training with the US Navy. The flight trials are scheduled to take around 11 weeks and +500 take-off and landings. The target is to be ready for a deployment from 2021.

Commodore Andrew Betton, the commander of the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, said: “The Queen Elizabeth-class carriers have been specifically designed and built to operate the F-35, offering an immensely flexible and potent combination to deliver military effect around the world.

“Conducting these trials is a critical and exciting step on this journey and I applaud the many thousands of civilian and military personnel who have played a part in bringing the strategic ambition to reality.”

 

F-35s hitting the Queen Elizabeth’s deck for the first time is a huge milestone for the Royal Navy and the UK Ministry of Defense as a whole. After entirely forfeiting its fixed-wing aircraft carrier capacity eight years ago with the retirement of the Harrier and the aging Invincible class carriers that took them to sea, getting that capability back, and in an expanded form, is quite exciting. In fact, I have never seen UK defense enthusiasts this amped up—almost to a comical degree, to be honest—about anything in the past. But when you consider they saw a staple Royal Navy capability suddenly strangled to its death nearly a decade ago, Friday’s milestone couldn’t have come soon enough.

First F-35Bs Operate off of HMS Queen Elizabeth
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray, F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, Md., makes the first ever F-35B Lightning II takeoff from HMS Queen Elizabeth. Two F-35Bs landed onboard the new British aircraft carrier this week laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy
F-35B on the ski jump. (LM)
First F-35Bs Operate off of HMS Queen Elizabeth
Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability. Shortly afterward, once a deck inspection has been conducted and the all-clear was given, Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray, F-35 Integrated Test Force at NAS Patuxent River, Md., became the first pilot to take off using the ship’s ski-ramp.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray in his F35B following the first deck landing aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md, landed the first two jets on the new British aircraft carrier this week.
Courtesy photo by Royal Navy
Two F-35B Lightning II fighter jets successfully landed onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time this week, laying the foundations for the next 50 years of fixed wing aviation in support of the UK’s Carrier Strike Capability.
Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray made history by being the first to land on, followed by Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin

First F-35Bs Operate off of HMS Queen Elizabeth

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