F-35 HMS Queen Elizabeth

HMS Queen Elizabeth sails for the United States – here’s the plan

Just over a year since HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Portsmouth for the first time, she will sail for her longest and most significant deployment yet. Known as Westlant 18, the primary purpose of the trip is for QE to conduct the first of class flying trials (FOCFT) with the F-35B Lightning II. (Some of the aviation aspects are discussed in more detail in our earlier article).

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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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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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HMS Queen Elizabeth flight deck

Infographic: Timeline for delivering carrier strike

This infographic looks at the schedule for delivery of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and their embarked aircraft. Prepared using MoD statements and public domain information, some dates are estimates and programs are likely to be subject to change.

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P8 Posiedon Harpoon missile

The puzzling absence of UK fixed-wing maritime strike capability

To compound the lack of a modern anti-ship missile for the RN surface fleet, there is also a worrying absence of airborne anti-ship capability both in the RN and the RAF. John Dunbar argues that such an important strategic asset represents good value for money, especially given the heavy investment in aircraft carriers and aircraft capable of delivering a modern generation of missiles.

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F-35B the right choice and the only choice for the Royal Navy

The F-35 Lightning II has proved highly controversial since the program’s conception in the 1990s. There are still those in the UK who would be happy to see the back of it, but the arguments in favour of the aircraft that is an essential part of the RN’s future are overwhelming.

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Donald Trump and NATO

What would a Donald Trump presidency mean for UK and European defence?

Donald Trump’s recent ascendency to the position of the Republican Party’s presidential candidate has been controversial to say the least. Throughout his campaign, Trump hasn’t minced his words or left anyone in doubt on a number matters. The issue of American defence spending has not escaped Trump’s attention, specifically his nation’s contributions to NATO.

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