Apache helicopters have visited HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Good morning to the @ArmyAirCorps and @BritishArmy who have arrived on board with their Apache helicopters as part of the #dday75 commemorations. Welcome to @HMNBPortsmouth ⚓️? #behindthewall pic.twitter.com/U4IlrTHccv
— HMS Queen Elizabeth (@HMSQNLZ) June 3, 2019
The visit is part of the commemorations of the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
Captain Jerry Kyd, former commander of HMS Queen Elizabeth, earlier commented on her initial deployment and the gradual increase in air wing numbers:
“We are constrained by the F-35 buy rate even though that was accelerated in SDSR in 2015, so initial operating capability numbers in 2020 are going to be very modest indeed.
We will flesh it out with helicopters, and a lot depends on how many USMC F-35s come on our first deployment in 2021. But by 2023, we are committed to 24 UK jets onboard, and after that it’s too far away to say.”
In addition to the joint force of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy F-35Bs and their pilots, the air wing is expected to be composed of a ‘Maritime Force Protection’ package of nine anti-submarine Merlin HM2 and four or five Merlin for airborne early warning; alternatively a ‘Littoral Manoeuvre’ package could include a mix of RAF Chinooks, Army Apaches, Merlin HC4 and Wildcat HM2.
It is my understanding that vessel would still carry at least one F-35 squadron aboard in such circumstances to offer air defence as well as support to the helicopter assault activities.