f-25 take off HMS Queen Elizabeth

Getting jets to sea – more squadrons, more pilots please

As HMS Queen Elizabeth undergoes initial sea trials there is considerable discussion about her future embarked air group. Amidst endless media and online gibberish about “aircraft carriers with no aircraft” the UK is in fact, building up its fleet of F-35B Lightnings ready to go to sea. Here John Dunbar considers the concerns about the number of jets that will be available to form the Tailored Air Group, and how their efficiency might be maximised.

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Up close with a US super carrier and the pilots fresh from combat operations

The arrival of the USS George HW Bush in British waters to participate in exercise Saxon Warrior with the Royal Navy provided a useful opportunity to meet US naval aviators who have recently completed combat missions against ISIS in the Middle East. Although they are very different, inevitable comparisons will also be made between the Nimitz class CVN and the Queen Elizabeth class CVF, which deserve to be put in perspective.

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On board USS George HW Bush as she helps the RN back into the aircraft carrier game

The USS George HW Bush deployed from the United States in January and has been in the Arabian Gulf and Mediterranean conducting strikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The Bush is arguably the most potent warship afloat in the world today and her visit to UK waters is very significant for the RN and US relations with Europe. Unlike the 65,000 ton HMS Queen Elizabeth, at 100,000 tons, the Bush is too large to enter Portsmouth and on her arrival in the Solent on 27th July, she anchored in Stokes Bay before hosting media and a VIP evening reception.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth sails from Invergordon, an echo of the Royal Navy’s illustrious past

After nearly sixteen days alongside in Invergordon for replenishment and repairs, HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed last night to resume sea trials. Her time in the port was slightly longer than anticpiated but today’s departure from the Cromarty Firth provides an opportunity to take in some historical perspective.

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Dunkirk movie

Dunkirk movie review. Great cinema, but is it great history?

Dunkirk is a fine drama, gripping and well paced. Tension is maintained throughout and Christopher Nolan has directed with an immaculate sense of action. An outstanding musical score by Hans Zimmer at times seems to howl like a diving Stuka or rasps like a machine gun, adding to the feeling of fear and foreboding. There are a few confusing jumps back and forward in time and an odd subplot about soldiers trapped in a fishing boat being used for target practice but overall, it deserves its 5-star reviews.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Invergordon

HMS Queen Elizabeth’s extended stop at Invergordon explained

HMS Queen Elizabeth has been alongside in the deepwater port of Invergordon for more than 10 days now and there is growing speculation about the reason for her extended stay. The planned stop at Invergordon had always been in the programme to allow refuelling and replenishment after 12 days at sea which included full power trials. Replenishment alone would not require 10 days, so it is clear there are engineering issues involved.

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Crowsnest Merlin Helicopter Aircraft Carriers

Crowsnest – the strike carrier’s eye in the sky

Crowsnest is the name for the project to provide a new airborne early warning system for the RN. Sea King Mk 7 helicopters operated by 849 Naval Air Squadron currently operate in this role and provide what is now called Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASaC). They are the last Sea Kings remaining active in UK service but are due to go in 2018, by which time this type will have served for nearly 50 years.

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Type 23 frigate in heavy weather

Ongoing manpower issues revealed by status of Royal Navy surface escorts

Although recent news for the Navy has been mostly positive, with HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea and orders placed for the Type 26 frigates, a quick look at the status of the escort fleet reveals the stresses that lack of manpower continues to exert.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea

HMS Queen Elizabeth – her first week at sea

On the afternoon of 26th June HMS Queen Elizabeth put sea for the first time. This was a significant milestone in modern Royal Navy history. She is the first British aircraft carrier completed since 1985 and the first true aircraft carrier in the world designed to operate 5th generation fixed wing aircraft.

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Astute Class submarine Faslane

Outlook for the Royal Navy in the wake of the 2017 general election

The uninspiring and complacent election campaign run by Theresa May and the Conservative party delivered something of a shock result. Universally expected to increase their number of seats, the Tories lost their Parliamentary majority and are now forced to rely on the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland to remain in power.

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