F-35 flight trials continue. HMS Queen Elizabeth Westlant 18 deployment – Part 4

Since the first F-35 arrived on board HMS Queen Elizabeth on 25th September the flight trials programme has continued at pace. There has been a great deal activity on board the ship and this period has been an eventful period for the F-35 programme as a whole. This photo and video essay covers the highlights of the Westlant 18 deployment from the past few weeks.

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USS Harry S Truman

Reporting from the USS Harry S Truman as US Navy strike group visits the UK

Today the USS Harry S Truman, flagship of US Navy’s Carrier Strike Group 8 came to anchor in the Solent off Gosport for a 5-day visit. We went on board and were able to speak with senior officers about their mission and relationship with the Royal Navy.

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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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RFA Fort Victoria refit at Cammel Laird

RFA Fort Victoria modified to support the aircraft carriers

RFA Fort Victoria is currently mid-way through a major refit at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead. The usual maintenance and machinery overhauls are being conducted but she is also being modified to provide solid stores replenishment to the aircraft carriers.

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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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