F-35 HMS Queen Elizabeth

First trials of F-35 aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth begin this autumn

In late August HMS Queen Elizabeth will leave Portsmouth for her Westlant 18 trip. The ship will be away for around four months and, although not an operational deployment, this will be her longest and most demanding period at sea so far. The centrepiece of the deployment will be the fixed-wing First of Class Trials (FOCT) with F-35Bs touching down on her deck for the first time. In this article we look at the preparation and plans for the flying trials.

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F-35s arrive in the UK

Photo & video essay: The aircraft carrier’s main armament, first F-35s arrive in the UK

After sensibly postponing the trip for 24 hours due to bad weather, yesterday the first four UK-owned F-35Bs touched down at RAF Marham after a trans-Atlantic flight from the United States. Despite the postponement, the jets have arrived two months ahead of the original schedule and those involved in the programme deserve to be congratulated. These aircraft of 617 Squadron will form part of the initial main armament for the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and will be the cornerstone of the UK carrier strike capability. The MoD has provided some outstanding imagery and video which tells the story of their arrival.

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Should HMS Queen Elizabeth be fitted with her own missile defences?

In an earlier article, we considered how the RN would use layered defence to protect the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers. There has been particular concern about the lack of defensive missiles fitted to the ship themselves and here we focus on the advantages and disadvantages of fitting the CAMM(M) Sea Ceptor system.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth alongside in Portsmouth

HMS Queen Elizabeth – a large and convenient media target

“Navy’s new £3.1Bn aircraft carrier is leaking” screams the front-page headline in today’s Sun newspaper, The Daily Express then helpfully adds to the hysteria by claiming “the ship is sinking”. The simple facts of this rather routine occurrence is that a leaking stern seal on one of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s propeller shafts was discovered during sea trials and is allowing small amounts of water into the ship.

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Sailors aborad HMS Queen Elizabeth practice drills for the commissioning ceremony

HMS Queen Elizabeth prepares for commissioning into the Royal Navy

Today HMS Queen Elizabeth formally commissions in the presence of the ship’s sponsor, Her Majesty the Queen. This ceremony marks the transition from being a ship to a warship as she becomes part of the Royal Navy, serving in the fleet potentially for 50 years. The Queen will arrive by royal train at Portsmouth Harbour and be taken by car to the ship which is alongside at Princess Royal Jetty. The ceremony will be held in the vast aircraft hangar with a reception for around 3,700 people including the ship’s company, their families and many invited guests.

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Portsmouth Spinaker Tower

HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed for part 2 sea trials

In glorious sunshine, HMS Queen Elizabeth sailed from Portsmouth today to begin the second phase of her sea trials. She will be at sea off the coast of the UK for about a month while undertaking further testing. 

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Sustaining Royal Navy manpower – the greatest challenge

Despite his usual upbeat tone, the First Sea Lord recently admitted the RN still faces manpower challenges. Here we look at some of the serious on-going manpower issues and how they might be addressed. (In this context “manpower” is shorthand for a diverse mix of men and women).

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HMS Prince of Wales named

HMS Prince of Wales formally named – another step towards renewing aircraft carrier capability

HMS Prince of Wales was officially named today during a ceremony in Rosyth, Scotland. The ship’s sponsor, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Rothesay, followed Royal Navy tradition by triggering the release of a bottle of 10-year-old whiskey to smash against the ship’s hull. It’s been a busy summer for the RN. In August HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Portsmouth for the first time. Less than a month later it is time to mark another major milestone for the aircraft carrier programme.

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