HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed for the first phase of trials that will ultimately see the carrier declared safe to fly Chinook, Merlin, Wildcat and Apache attack helicopters in addition to F-35 jets later in the year.
The aim of the trials say the Royal Navy is to ‘work out the conditions that the aircraft can operate in while at sea on the carrier’. They will collect data about the landings, take-offs and manoeuvres in different wind and sea conditions, before processing the information and ultimately declaring that the ship can safely operate the aircraft.
2 CH-47 Chinooks have embarked as part of our Rotary Wing flying trials. pic.twitter.com/HafkdeLuHi
— HMS Queen Elizabeth (@HMSQnlz) February 2, 2018
The helicopter trials take place before the fixed wing F35 Lightning II trials later this year. Captain Jerry Kyd, the Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, said:
“After the excitement of our commissioning ceremony in December, my ship’s company and our industry partners are looking forward to taking the ship to sea to conduct first of class rotary wing flying trials.
These trials will involve operating different types of helicopter from the ship in all weather conditions and fully testing the myriad of on board systems that are designed to support aviation.
This is an important milestone in the ship’s progression towards embarking the F35-B Lightning jets later this year, and ultimately the achievement of carrier strike capability.”
A Royal Navy press release said:
“HMS Queen Elizabeth’s 700-strong crew will be further bolstered during the trials by more than 70 people from the ship’s permanently assigned Naval Air Squadron, 820 NAS from RNAS Culdrose, with two further operational Merlin helicopters providing force protection.
Helicopters have previously landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth to transfer essential stores and personnel, but not for official flying trials.”