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Sea deployment for British Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth to test F-35B fighter aircraft


British Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has sailed from her homeport Portsmouth on August 30, 2019, ahead of testing the UK’s F-35B Lightning fast fighter jets for the very first time.


Sea deployment for British Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth to test F 35B fighter aircraft 925 001 British Royal Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has sailed from her homeport Portsmouth August 30, 2019, ahead of testing the UK’s F-35B Lightning fast fighter jets for the very first time. (Picture source British Royal Navy)


The Royal British Navy’s biggest warship will be working with up to seven British F-35B jets during her Westlant 19 deployment, which sees her once again return to the east coast of North America.

This deployment marks another significant milestone for the aircraft carrier, which will have Royal Navy and RAF jets embarked during five weeks of testing, as well as hosting F-35s from the United States Marine Corps.

Ahead of full operations in 2021, the carrier, F-35s and supporting units will be rigorously tested under realistic warfighting scenarios, visiting Canada and the USA during the three-month mission.

The ship’s Commanding Officer, Captain Steve Moorhouse said: “To command any warship is a privilege but to be able to command HMS Queen Elizabeth during this pivotal phase of her capability development is a real honour."

"Westlant 19 is a hugely exciting deployment and as we increase the scale and complexity of our training and testing, so the potency of this extraordinary ship continues to grow.

“In addition to my core ship’s company, the fixed and rotary wing air assets, enhanced medical capability, Royal Marines and other force elements from across Defence will enhance HMS Queen Elizabeth and the UK’s Carrier Strike capability on this deployment."

Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon and Type 23 frigate HMS Northumberland will accompany Queen Elizabeth with tanker RFA Tideforce providing support to the Carrier Strike Group. This potent group of British ships will also be joined by units from the United States Navy, US Air Force and US Marine Corps.

Royal Marines from Lima Company 42 Commando, based in Plymouth, and Fleet Air Arm assets will also embark on Westlant. They will include Merlin helicopters and Wildcats from Culdrose-based 814 and Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadrons. Commando Helicopter Force's 845 NAS are also embarked in their role as the wings of the Royal Marines.

Royal British Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom and capable of carrying up to 60 aircraft. The ship began sea trials in June 2017, was commissioned on 7 December 2017 and is scheduled to enter service in 2020.

Defensive weapons include the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence and 30mm Automated Small Calibre Guns and Miniguns for use against fast attack craft.[6] She would be escorted into high-risk areas by the Type 45 destroyer, which was made specially to fulfill this role. In lower-risk situations, frigates or even patrol vessels may be used instead. It will carry 4 miniguns and 8 general-purpose machine guns.