Aircraft from British carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and American carrier USS Carl Vinson have conducted joint interoperability flights in the Pacific.

During the joint interoperability flights, the aircraft conducted missions to validate joint integration techniques, tactics, and procedures; including mid-air refueling. This is the first time that VINCSG and CSG-21 have operated together.

“In a very short amount of time, we were able to seamlessly combine the collective 5th generation capabilities of joint strike fighter aircraft from two services and a partner nation together with the rest of the advanced capabilities of our entire air wing,” Capt. Tommy Locke, commander CVW-2, was quoted as saying.

“Our strike group and air wing arrived in the Indo-Pacific ready to demonstrate the value of having agile 5th generation maritime power in the region – and make no doubt, we are ready to win.”

USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) underway in the Pacific Ocean on 31 May 2015.JPG
FILE PHOTO: USS Carl Vinson IN the Pacific Ocean on 31 May 2015.

Participating aircraft from U.S. Navy Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2) include: four F-35C Lightning IIs from Strike Fight Squadron (VFA) 147; five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadrons (VFA) 2 and 192; two EA-18G Growlers, from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136; and one E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, from Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 113.

HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Participating aircraft from HMS Queen Elizabeth include: two U.S. F-35Bs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211; and two F-35Bs from 617 Squadron.

“Integrating United Kingdom and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs into a flight with U.S. Navy F-35Cs continues to reinforce the tactical flexibility and interoperability of the F-35,” said Col. Simon Doran, U.S. Senior National Representative to the UK CSG.

“Additionally, the mission further demonstrates the F-35s ability to support distributed maritime operations.”

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Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago

I like the buddy tanker! But I bet the Hornets need it! With a 500 mile range! Could an F35b carry the same type system?

John Hartley
John Hartley
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Just what I was thinking.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

If would be an expensive way of doing things given the cost per flying hour and use up a valuable resource as the buddy needs to be fitted with the hose etc so will be heavy.

You then need to validate the getup and as far as I am aware USM / USMC gave not been interested so it would be a UK only mod. This then gets crazy expensive as the flight software will need to be modified and validated.

Far better to get a sub sonic drone solution

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
1 month ago

Was thinking the same thing especially as by the time a buddy solution ever became operative you could, if really committed, be within range of introducing a more efficient drone solution so really would be a waste of scarce resources in the end I suspect.

Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

But wouldn’t an advantage of buddy jets be
that they can fly with the jets near the area of operation at relatively the same speed and still have offensive/defensive capabilitys

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

If they were armed and flew to the same area of operation, wouldn’t they also need refuelling?

Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Yeah, but can’t they take fuel from the 5 huge tanks they can carry.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

I don’t think it would work like that. Ignoring stealth (as you seem to be), the only difference in the fit between the two configurations you have described is the one carries fuel and the other air-to-surface missiles. The strike planes can also carry drop tanks. If all take off at max load or are immediately fully refuelled locally to the carrier, the extra weight of the fuel carried by buddy tankers at the start of the mission can’t exceed by much the weight of the air to surface weaponry carried by the strike planes (hard points constraints aside). Let’s… Read more »

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Have you read Phoenix Squadron by Roland White? Ark Royal in 1972 made a solo dash across the Atlantic to launch 2 Buccaneers to Belize and back across the entire Caribbean. They got supported by 2 buddy AAR on the way out and again on the way back.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim

No. I haven’t. Did the buddy tankers fly all the way to the target as Reaper was proposing?

Tim
Tim
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

No. The mission pair were unarmed and full of drop tanks, the AAR buddies the same. They all took off somewhere near Bermuda, did the AAR approaching Florida and the buddies returned. The mission pair flew to Belize city for one low level pass as a show of force nearby, then flew back past Florida to meet the buddy pair again (now on their second sortie). The mission pair got followed by a USAF QRA pair as they approached Florida the second time because they had come from the direction of Cuba! Ark R also “shortened” the distance during the… Read more »

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

It depends if they are thinking of a common UAAR/ UCAV system, my understanding is they are considered two different airframes?

I would assume this will end up being a joint UK designed, Carrier capable RAF/ RN UCAV (as both projects, Sea Vixen and Mosquito, will probably dovetail into one) and an off the shelf US UAAR drone.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi SB,

Yeh, drones is where it is at.

My reading between the lines is that the final air wing configuration for the QEC is F35b, sub-sonic drone for AAR / AEW (probably the same drone platform) and a loyal wingman, the latter drawing on experience and technology from the RAF Tempest programme.

Obviously, this is a bit fanatasy fleet at the moment but I sense it is also the strategic development path that the RN / RAF are currently on – if all goes well. Big if, of course.

Cheers CR

Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I wish we could develop a Naval Tempest, for air to air superiority and have the f35b for ground atack. There’s lots of new carrier nations like japan, Korean even iNDIA that could possibly buy.

Italy being a partner also has carriers so could be interested, but can’t see it especially not an emals launched one, But STOBAR would be the best bet all we need Is an arestor wire for recovery, possibly suit drone recovery too.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Hi Reaper, It would essentially be a very different airframe because of the landing stresses are so much higher on a carrier aircraft compared to a land based aircraft. The best aircraft that operated from both land and carriers was the F4 Phantom IMO. It is no accident that it started out as a carrier plane. The Buccaneer wasn’t too shabby either. The French did a good job of developing the Rafale M but it is likely that it was significantly more expensive per unit given there were only a few built and it is 500kg heavier than the C… Read more »

Tams
Tams
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

This is the thing that time and again proponents of cats and traps fail to bring up.

Aircraft for them have to be considerably strengthened and even then undergo an incredible amount of wear.

Not that STOVL/VTOL doesn’t add weight, take up space and induce wear, and therefore increase cost, but at the end of the day it’s pretty much a wash between them.

Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago

yeah, I wonder if the USMC aren’t adopting buddy tankers because the F35b has almost twice the Range as a Hornet, oh and the US vast tanker fleets, that the UK also has access to.

If only HMS QE could launch and recover heavy tanker drones, awacs drones. I could picture them all being launched and flown ages before f35s are launched then loitering in their designated airspace giving the carriers a far better capability.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

This always makes me laugh when people complain about the F-35B’s range…

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago

Once we get these mini-EMALS fitted to the carriers we should just order a dozen or so MQ-25 Stingrays for air to air refuelling of our F35s.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

My view, which may be totally wrong, is that the mini emals will be fitted to something else.

Drone tech is moving very fast.

Why cut up your perfect Helo/F35B platform for something that will change out of recognition in 5 years?

I see mini emals first on a cheapo merchant conversion and then on a new build RFA.

May be totally wrong but why make an operationally complex flight deck more complex and risky than it needs to be?

All speculation.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

If that happens that would be brilliant. Is there an article or are you reading between the lines ?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

As I say speculation.

But with all these things are you going to use QEC as a trials barge?

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

Hope your right.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi SB, The navy have said that they are going to use the PoW for trials, but I agree that cutting her about to try EMALS is most unlikely. Using her for UAV trials while we build up the F35b fleet makes sense. It would be a low intensity activity, saving hull wear and tear whilst generating significant opportunities to expand our UAV development programme. Also I do not see any plan (yet) for a specialist RN or RFA platform that would justify EMALS. The description of the T32 as a frigate suggests something too small for the EMALS RFI… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I think it is the Albion or Bay replacements that will ultimately host these. The top might look more like Ocean?

It could even be the Solids ships – anything really big ……. but that might conflict with carrying explosives…..

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

Hi SB, If we do get a Ocean-esque amphib then larger more capable horizonal take-off and landing UAV’s could be more widely deployed with task groups. Vertical take-off and landing types could use any suitably sized heli or flight deck, so obviously offer the most flexibility and probably the most cost effective entry into service. I agree with you that it would be good to see smaller flat tops in the fleet as I think this would free up the QEC for their core fleet role. I also think that we need to remember that the most critical role for… Read more »

Ian
Ian
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Hi CR…..for the cost of changing our 2 aircraft carries flight decks , could we buy some Ospreys for America

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian

Hi Ian, Probably, but I don’t think the Osprey will meets the RN’s requirements which have moved on since the Osprey was first introduced. I think UAV’s are where the RN is heading, effectively jumping a generation of capability. I think this is the right way to go as it takes the long term view, something we really need to start doing more effectively. If not we will continue to lose ground compared to our adversaries. For long range people carrying roles the RN / RM can access the RAF Chinook fleet. Not as capable as the Osprey for sure,… Read more »

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Would be nice if we could get a cheapo flat top conversion that could fly Helicopters and drones with a mini-Emals… something perhaps built to civilian standards to reduce cost, and in the 20,000t range….

But that would just be madness XD

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

I wouldn’t bother qualifying it for Helos more cost and too Max Hastings. We have plenty of Helo slots – just need enough cabs…..
Just use it as a trials barge for the drones.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Having a barge that can embark Chinooks and Apaches has proven useful in the past however…

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

I agree with you.

However, as this is nascent technology, mixing functions is going to make the pathway more uncertain.

Look at it this way. If it is single function you can do whatever you want to the platform to make that function optimised. If you have to compromise that function and requalify for cabs etc you will “learn a lot” painfully slowly and expensively…..

Much better to go ultra cheap’n’cheerful learn the lessons and then build a proper one one things have matured.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

Hmmm I don’t know, if you’re just experimenting with the concept of drones then a EMALS installed on an existing airbase would do the same thing, but cheaper.

I feel like if the Navy is going to invest in a ship it needs to be able to be used after the experimentation is done, hence an Ocean type vessel.

Caribbean
Caribbean
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Something like the Dokdo-class comes to mind

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve R

MQ-25 is more expensive than an F-35. If we weren’t going to buy V-22s as tankers because of cost, I can’t see us getting a fleet of MQ-25s

Steve R
Steve R
1 month ago
Reply to  Jon

Ah! I didn’t realise they were that expensive.

Maybe we should by a dozen AW609s (£30 million per aircraft) and convert them for A2A refuelling. They’re cheaper than V22s.

Could potentially buy more to convert into AEW aircraft for the carriers.

Or maybe we should build our own refuelling drone, perhaps base if off BAE Taranis.

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

I don’t think Hornets embark very often any more. And the main reason for a buddy tanker is to buy time for potential bolters. That’s not relevant to the UK.

Paul T
Paul T
1 month ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

Quite the opposite,Hornet’s are still the go-to Fighter Aircraft on USN Carriers and will be for some time,the F35c has only just made it’s maiden deployment.

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul T

I’m afraid you’re incorrect.

Monty
Monty
1 month ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

Hornets don’t embark very often antmore….Huh?

Monty
Monty
1 month ago
Reply to  Monty

Hornets are more than 90% of the USN fighter force right now.

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
1 month ago
Reply to  Monty

No they aren’t. In fact the US Navy doesn’t operate any Hornets at all. The USMC still do, of course, but their deployments aboard are decreasing. Perhaps you’re getting confused with the Super Hornet. And no, they aren’t the same.

Northco
Northco
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Here is a range comparison of the f18 and the f35 armedforces.eu/compare/multirole_aircraft_Lockheed_Martin_F-35_Lightning_II_vs_FA-18E_Super_Hornet

Andrew Thorne
Andrew Thorne
1 month ago

The Chinese are well on their way to their third carrier: https://www.militarytimes.com/news/your-military/2021/09/02/chinas-type-003-aircraft-carrier-will-be-advanced-but-not-a-game-changer-for-us-experts-say/ Their fourth carrier will be game changer and will be nuclear powered and have advanced directed energy weapon systems. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_aircraft_carrier_programme They estimate that China is heading for six carriers and they maybe better armed in the future than current US and UK carriers. China do play the long game whereas we are playing the short game. Worrying times for the west – where is the leadership? If I were in Taiwan I would be very worried indeed. At least we have defence pacts with South Korea and Japan… Read more »

Reaper
Reaper
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

China won’t Atack Taiwan, they will just threaten and annoy it like they do.
China and the west are far too intertwined these days for war, chinese company’s and interests are all over the west, and western money in China, China would lose their businesses and assets and the money they make in business with the west if they atacked Taiwan. It far outweighs Capturing Taiwan, and Taiwan will be tricky, it’s not like hong kong. So can’t see war with China, we both need each other.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Hi Reaper, Never say never. China has always claimed Taiwan and I think they will take it one day. If they can do it quickly enough they may be able to present the West with a fait accompli. A bit like Hilter’s taking of Czechoslovakia. It would lead to serious economic and probably political and diplomatic fall out, but if they play the long game well then they could move their economy away from its dependence on exports and ride out the storm. They are big enough to do it, when they are ready. The adapting of China’s economy has… Read more »

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

To be fair, Taiwan never has claimed not to be part of China…

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

True enough Dern, hence my point that China will one day take over…

Cheers CR

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Or Taiwan will take over China. 🙂

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Be careful using common sense on this site.It will get you into trouble 😆

Damo
Damo
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Thorne

China don’t have a democratic electorate to worry about. Western democracies and aside from the US defence isn’t a big issue for most people. The benefits of collective security i guess

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
1 month ago

It’s a shame nobody’s published any shots which include 617 in formation.

Barry Humphries
Barry Humphries
1 month ago
Reply to  Glenn Ridsdale

But they have! The F-35B taking fuel and the one forward and left are USMC A/C. Note the dashes on trailing edge of the tail. The two to the right and behind are 617 Sqn A/C.

Glenn Ridsdale
Glenn Ridsdale
1 month ago

There are only two F-35B’s in the photo. The farther pair are clearly USN F-35C’s.