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British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for F-35B jet trials in UK waters


British navy HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier has sailed from her home port of Portsmouth on January 24, 2020, to conduct flight trials with UK F-35B Lightning jets in home waters. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the Royal Navy. This awe-inspiring warship is capable of carrying up to 40 aircraft.


British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for F 35B jet trials in UK waters 925 001 British Navy HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier sails for Portsmouth for sea trials in UK waters. (Picture source British Navy)


UK Lightning Force jets conducted their first maritime flights during operational tests with the aircraft carrier just a few months ago. The 65,000-tonne warship has previously only carried out trials with the jets while training in the Atlantic during 2018 and 2019.

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commanding Officer, Captain Angus Essenhigh, said: “It is a real honor for me to be taking HMS Queen Elizabeth to sea for the first time as her new Commanding Officer.

"This period at sea will build on the successes of the Westlant 19 deployment, providing a fantastic opportunity for the ship to further its generation towards carrier strike, and will train and qualify UK F-35 pilots in UK waters for the very first time.”

The joint Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Lightning Force Training squadron, 207 Squadron, will conduct the trials, flying aircraft to and from the decks, day and night from their base at RAF Marham. Six pilots, both navy and air force, will carry out their aircraft carrier qualification at that time.

The trials will give the pilots practice in landing on the 4.5-acre deck in a range of conditions, as well as testing the ship’s crew and systems in operating with the jets that the ship, and her sister, HMS Prince of Wales, were specifically built to fly.

Lieutenant Commander Richard Turrell, Flight Deck Officer on HMS Queen Elizabeth, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to further integrate and qualify United Kingdom F-35 pilots, ground crews and aircraft onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in UK waters.

"My team is excited to get to the sea and continue the development of our ship to air wing partnership throughout 2020 and beyond to deploying with full carrier strike capability in 2021.”

The Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier are is capable of carrying forty aircraft, a maximum of thirty-six F-35Bs and four helicopters.  The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) variant is the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft. It is designed to operate from austere bases and a range of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones. It can also take off and land conventionally from longer runways on major bases.

The flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth comes in at an enormous four acres and will be used to launch the fearsome new F-35B Joint Strike Fighter fast jet. Four fighter jets can be moved from the hangar to the flight deck in just one minute.


British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for F 35B jet trials in UK waters 925 002
Pictures released by the British MoD (Ministry of Defense) show UK F-35 Lightning jets landing, taking off and hovering onboard Britain’s next-generation aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time.