Aggressor aircraft launched an assault against HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Battle Group near the Moray Firth, the purpose of this training is for the task force to practice defending against air attack.

HMS Queen Elizabeth exercised with the Royal Navy’s Hawks from 736 Naval Air Squadron, the Royal Navy’s ‘attacker’ squadron. The jets from RNAS Culdrose have been taking part in training with NATO ships as well as RAF Typhoons and the Lightning stealth fighters.

The squadron is used to test ship’s companies and fighter controllers in how to respond to hostile aircraft or incoming missiles. The black-painted 736 squadron jets were operating from RAF Leeming in Yorkshire before moving up to Aberdeen International Airport for the start of Joint Warrior.

Lieutenant Commander Jason Flintham, 736’s Commanding Officer, said:

“Our role is to be the enemy – the bad guys if you like. It’s not easy, but we try to be as difficult as possible and push the abilities of our personnel to respond to a high-speed aerial threat. In one situation, 736 Squadron provided four Hawks as part of an 11-aircraft airborne threat against 11 RAF Typhoons. With 22 aircraft in the air fighting on this occasion, it was super exciting to be involved with and it demands much concentration and skill from my navy pilots.”

Typically, Hawk jets support Dassault Falcon 20DC aircraft acting as long-range anti-ship bombers. The Falcons are flown by Cobham Aviation Services.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Strike Group are currently exercising alongside allied nations in the North Sea, as part of NATO’s largest annual exercise, Joint Warrior.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is sailing with HMS Defender, HMS Diamond, HMS Northumberland, HMS Kent, RFA Fort Victoria and RFA Tideforce in addition to the USS The Sullivans and Dutch vessel HNLMS Evertsen.

The Ministry of Defence say that the aim is to provide a complex environment in which the participants can train together, honing tactics and skills in preparation for deployment as a Combined Joint Task Force.

Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

“The scenario for each Joint Warrior is designed to reflect contemporary political tensions – such as the War on Terror and the threat posed by ISIS – and to simulate the hostilities that might result from them. The ultimate aim? To assure maximum preparedness in the face of any threat.”

F-35B jets onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth.

This massive multinational war exercise involves warships, aircraft, marines and troops from UK, NATO and allied forces. The exercise doesn’t only allow participating units to hone their specialist roles within a larger war-style setting – it also helps foster vital links between the UK, NATO and other allied militaries.

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Joshua Rieser

Amateur question, but is there an eventuality where the F35s could be launched to intercept an ‘enemy’ aircraft?

Mr Bell

I wonder what the saturation attack level would need to be to get passed combat air patrol of F35Bs, type 45 with sea venom/ viper combo Aster 30 and 15 missile defences, type 23 with sea ceptor and then CIWS Add to that decoys and an auxiliary on each flank to shield carrier from incoming missile strike? Would 11 or 22 aggressor aircraft be enough? Not many airforce can put a large strike package together. Russia and China definitely could though. Any views on just how big a strike would need to be to get through to Queen Elizabeth Also… Read more »


Iran, Turkey could.


Depends on how suicidal the Pilots are you will always be able to get through but are you prepared to loose enough aircraft to do it. Will you have sufficient airbases to launch the attack after the F35 and cruise missiles strike your airbases first.