British jets will form part of the largest air group of 5th generation fighters ever put to sea alongside jets from the U.S. Marine Corps as they embark on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The ship and her aircraft will sail as part of the Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) deployment, the maiden operational deployment of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

CSG 21 will see the aircraft carrier and her supporting ships travel over 26,000 nautical miles from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, from the Gulf of Aden to the Arabian Sea, and from the Indian Ocean to the Philippine Sea.

You can read more about the deployment by visiting the link below.

Largest concentration of UK seapower in a generation to sail

The RAF say on their website that logistics planning for the deployment have been underway at RAF Marham for the past six months.

“The variety of equipment is vast, from a washer to an engine, and all have their own issues” said the Warrant Officer from the Logistics Support Squadron.

“For example, an F-35 engine requires a crane and the right team needs to ensure its prepped ready to be lifted. It’s also important to ensure equipment being delivered to us is checked for Dangerous Goods and the policy is being adhered to with its movement. The team ensure that everything has been delivered by checking it and the paperwork properly to avoid the kit being rejected and not making the flight, or in this case the ship.”

Officer Commanding 617 Squadron Mission Support Flight was quoted as saying:

“We have to ensure our pilots have everything they require to be ready to meet any mission they may be tasked with. Each and every deployed member, whether RAF, Royal Navy or civilian contractor, enables that mission to be successful. The atmosphere on the squadron is somewhat hectic but there is undoubtedly a very excited buzz.”

You can read more from the RAF on this here.

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Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

Will the UK F35s be getting the 25mm cannons that I imagine the US F35s will have? Could be useful once all the missiles have been shot off and bombs dropped.

Ron5
Ron5
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

No for now.

RobW
RobW
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

No. The USMC F35B has a separate pod that needs to be installed for the canon, which rather negates the stealth characteristics of the aircraft. It has been stated before that we do not intend on ordering the pod.

BigH1979
BigH1979
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Also isn’t CAS the primary mission of the USMC aircraft? Surely much more need of a cannon as opposed to the Air to Air/Strike mission of the British jets.

Fedaykin
Fedaykin
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

In the end if there is a sudden emergency need for the cannon pod then it is a pretty short UOR away so I am not losing much sleep over it really.

Bringer of Facts
Bringer of Facts
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Cannons would only be needed in a dog fight, The F35 is not really designed to be a dogfighter.

Nate m
Nate m
2 months ago

oh. so what will ensure aerial supremacy over skies where our typhoons can’t reach?

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Nate m

The F35 is most capable of BVR engagements, due to its systems and missiles, and able to do VR also, very well, so no worries there.

Rogbob
Rogbob
2 months ago

It exceeeds the ability of the F16 and F18 in that arena, the former being the (subsonic) standard for Typhoon to exceed.

So I think it’s ok.

KPB
KPB
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Not worth compromising their stealth characteristics for per se, so I don’t think we need them for A-2-A activity in the early days of a peer conflict, but Sea Harriers armed with Aden cannons did significant damage to Argentine naval forces in 1982. The Narwal, Rio Igauzu and Bahía Buen Suceso were all put out of action by 30mm. All were lightly armed transport or intelligence gathering ships. China has a fleet of them disguised as trawlers/fishing vessels, Russia’s surface fleet is predominately littoral and small, and Iran has form for using fast boats to attack vessels outside of the… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

As most below have said we’re not getting the gun pod at present. Though may change in the future.

The gun pod is fully radar stealth compliant. It has been built to minimize any additional RCS. Lockheed Martin have done a lot of advertising and PR about a little the gun pod adds to the aircrafts RCS.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago

Are the USMC weapons interchangeable with the UK and vice versa? Stealthy or not a cannon could still very useful but yes it is a bit clunky looking.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

It might be best to wait a while until the fault is identified and safe for us to use.

12.03.2021

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/39920/a-marine-f-35b-fighter-jet-accidentally-shot-itself-with-its-own-gun-pod

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
DRS
DRS
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

That was supposedly the ammo casing rather than the gun itself . it exploded after it exited the gun.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  DRS

Either way, it must have been a brown trouser moment for the pilot!
Fortunately, both the plane and the pilot returned safely. If the plane had crashed determining the problem would have been a nightmare.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Our Harrier GR9’s never had a cannon, but the Sea Harrier FA2 did. And it was a right pain in the arse to maintain, with weapons hangups (misfires or jams) pretty common when fired during training, which didn’t take place very often.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Robert. I know in the 60’s they thought we were in the missile age and got rid of guns only to realise later (Vietnam War) that they were needed but we have moved on. If an enemy aircraft gets close enough to an F35 to enter into a gun dog fight then all sorts of things have gone wrong. The F35 should see the enemy threat and shoot it down beyond visual range. Also, even for ground support, Paveway and Brimstone has got to be better than a low level strafing run.

captain p wash
captain p wash
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

We had a few Cannon on The Black Pig, bloody heavy balls anorl.

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Yes an impressive bit of tackle.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

Hi Rob. The Tornado GR4 used it’s cannon to great affect in Afghan if a show of force didn’t do the trick. but that’s about it. If a F35 or F22/Typhoon is resorting to guns in air to air, the pilot is having a very bad day. Aircrew don’t want to get into a visual turning fight, even if you have bags of performance. It’s very dangerous. You want to shoot the bad guy from 30+ miles away before he even knows he is being tracked, something the F35 will excel at. ASRAAM and a HMS also tips the odds… Read more »

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

So why compromise the stealth features by putting in a gun pod that if needed would be brown trousers time?

Don’t need the gun pod.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

For CAS they can still be very useful. And if you are shooting at bad guys in the desert, stealth probably isn’t the priority.

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob

No, not all the time. As a JTAC, I was using an aircraft’s gun strafe as much as directed ordinance. A lot of the time when the Taliban saw the aircraft lining up for an attack, they would usually end the contact and bug out smartish. The majority quickly learned it was not a good idea to be on the receiving end of an A10’s gun run, even when hiding behind mud brick walls! From my experience a gun strafe can be just as effective as a Brimstone. It mostly depended on the circumstances that I needed to coordinate a… Read more »

KPB
KPB
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Really interesting reply. Thanks.

Nathan
Nathan
2 months ago

Can the we sacrifice premium stealth for cheaper maintenance on the F-35? Is there a coating or paint or something we could simply not apply and use a more rugged alternative lacking the superior stealth characteristics? Or do the operational costs lay some where else?

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Nathan. Read my post above. What do we need a gun pod for?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

The stealth coating on the F35 is much easier to maintain compared to the F22. They can open any panel without comprising the RAM coatings.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

I’m not sure if anything has changed since then? April 24, 2020 “This issue was closed on December 17, 2019 with no further actions and concurrence from the U.S. services,” the F-35 JPO statement read. “The [deficiency report] was closed under the category of ‘no plan to correct,’ which is used by the F-35 team when the operator value provided by a complete fix does not justify the estimated cost of that fix. “In this case, the solution would require a lengthy development and flight testing of a material coating that can tolerate the flight environment for unlimited time while… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Another point I should have mentioned is Digital Stealth. Radar 2, Thermal Targeting Pirate (IRST), will play a major role going forward.

I’ve heard from a trusted source that by the mid-’20s the landscape will have changed somewhat in this area, so let’s wait and see.

This article seems to support what he was indicating in terms of the timeframe!

https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/defense/2020-09-14/britains-long-awaited-radar-two-program-breaks-cover

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It’s funny that the two partners Nations within Eurofighter that operate F35s have chosen a more advanced radar. Whereas those who don’t have gone for a much lesser variant.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Indeed. I wonder if we have gained any useful information by having the opportunity of flying them both together in close proximity?

Time will tell I guess!

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/08/08/royal-air-force-typhoon-jets-to-receive-key-sensor-upgrade/

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Project Bablefish if I remember correctly was the pairing of a F35 and Typhoon. Where the Typhoon could receive some information from the F35 via its link-16 data-link. Having a much smaller bandwidth than the F35’s MADL only compressed data could be sent.
However, the pilots/engineers would have reported back what the APG-81 was doing as they were learning how to use it. I’m certain this has heavily influenced the decision to wait for Radar2 rather than going for the updated Captor-M with a new front end.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

More than likely, I’m not sure if you’ve had time to read the article above, but it appears that an update for the EJ200 engine might also be on the cards? Also quoted in the article: “Flynn said there were more than 50 separate candidate technologies being considered by the evolution review. Some of those potential upgrades could also find themselves cross decking to the Tempest sixth-generation fighter now being proposed by the British. Clive Marrison, the industrial requirements director for Team Tempest, the industrial/government partnership leading the next-generation fighter work, said both jets could benefit from close development ties.… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I know the Praetorian DAS is getting updated and has been penciled in to be rolled out by 2035. I had heard rumours of PIRATE also being updated as well, but hadn’t heard if this had been paid for to be included in the next modification program. PIRATE is now quite old and infra-red optical technology has moved on. It’s a key sensor for Typhoon so must be high on the priority wish list? The EJ200 hasn’t really been touched since the proposal for the TAL project. Wiki has a paragraph on a stage 2 update. Where they are saying… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Very useful to know, thank you. We should be throwing some of our weight behind Typhoon and increasing our orders as well. A combination of this and Tempest will give the RAF some real teeth in the decades ahead. The RAF will have a very good idea of the added performance by adding LERX as they were included in the original flight tests back in 2015. This is not the sort of modification that would cost us an arm and a leg I would have thought against the benefits it has to offer us? “The addition of strakes and LERX… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Nigel Collins
Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Bugger stealth, just wrap it in a cam net, job done! Just make sure the tape is secure and its properly pegged to…er….just tape then!

Rob
Rob
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

You er, soldier you!

KPB
KPB
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

You’re right – clearly the SR71 was covered in black nasty, so it should work!

Patrick
Patrick
2 months ago

What are the numbers of F35s to be deployed the carrier, 8 UK and 12 USMC?

David
David
2 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

8 UK and 10 USMC is what I have read.

Jon
Jon
2 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

I read 8 UK and 10 USMC

captain p wash
captain p wash
2 months ago
Reply to  Jon

It’s OK though, when she gets to India, she will host a dozen Harriers as well.

Patrick
Patrick
2 months ago
Reply to  captain p wash

For such a big RN deployment, it’s a pity they couldn’t get the UK F35s to double digits.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

It’s all about the numbers available at the time I guess.

“We know we need to increase the number of F-35Bs to support the [Royal Navy] carrier through to its out-of-service date. The precise number will dependent a bit on the work we do and the investment we are making on the FCAS,” he said, referring to the UK-led Tempest program. “We expect to make a definitive judgement around the total future fleet in the 2025 timeframe,” Knighton added.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2020/12/09/british-f-35-buy-is-still-a-moving-target-defense-ministry-tells-lawmakers/

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  captain p wash

Ah India…that may be a problem…..

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Maybe folk would prefer the QEC sits in Pompey until 2023 by which time she has her 2 squadrons of F35? Or until the future solid support ships are built? Or until Crowsnest is fully operational?

This is great training for when the UK does have the initial 48 jets and more can deploy.

I don’t care myself that there are “only” 8 UK F35, most of the group is British and very proud of it. Don’t give a monkeys there are USMC jets aboard either.

So much negativity. Remember 2010 and how much has been achieved so far.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago

Well said Daniele. 🇬🇧

Rob
Rob
2 months ago

Yes and remember the US are our allies so having practised putting a USMC squadron onboard is not a bad thing even if we get to 24 jets regularly and 30+ surge of UK assets. Maybe the USMC pilots will go home and say we need carriers like these, designed for the F35B and with an inbuilt pub?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago

Quite

John Stevens
John Stevens
2 months ago

Totally agree with you, well said.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago

Good comment Daniele. Anyone holding senior rank in any navy WW knows conceptually what CSG21 signifies in terms of capability, even at this point. Especially China and Russia who will know first hand some, but probably not all, the challenges involved in such a sustained long term deployment that only come through relevant institutional experience. What seems to escape many is that its not about what stage it is at this year, or next, its what its already capable of and what its developing into, barely into its 50 year life. The ability to fully support the USMC throughout a… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

As the USS Bonholme Richard is now being scrapped. I can see the USMC being embarked regularly for the foreseeable future, until they have a replacement LHD/LHA.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

I suspect USMC deployments on QEC will continue even with LHD/LHA replacement along with the suggested potential reduction in F-35B buy by the USMC, as they pursue their changed role. After all the commitment was there before the USS Bonholme Richard fire. The value for the US in fully enabling the UK carriers is massive in providing flexibility for their own overworked CSG ops, frankly its a bargain for them.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago

As mate normal spot on post.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

bloody hell not only are my fingers to big for the bloody I phone, now im typing words all over the place….im starting to sound like friggin Yoda!

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Wise man, you are 🙂

The Artist Formerly Known as Los Pollos Chicken
The Artist Formerly Known as Los Pollos Chicken
2 months ago

Aye spot on 👍🏻 👏🏻 It’s a thankless task trying to highlight positivity in here but encouraging to see others point out what is excellent progress in a more eloquent manner than my usual blunt to the point tone👊🏼

however one must take into account these wee doom n gloomy mince n tatie merchants weren’t exposed to “Swap Shop” on Saturday mornings during their formative years so alas it’s not any great shock at the negativity 🚽💩

The U.K. is DOING what nearly everyone else can’t 👍🏻

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿🇬🇧

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago

Couldn’t agree more Daniele, This deployment and the capability is much more than ships, aircraft and even the deploying crews. It is as much about the support teams right across the Services, MoD and the defence industrial complex. The recent article on here about the RAF logistic squadron prepping for the departure of the CSG highlighted use of the backroom effort that goes into this. Not to mention the FCDO and embasy staff across the globe working to set up port visiting etc.. This deployment is a Joint and Combined effort. There are probably far more people across two continents… Read more »

DFJ123
DFJ123
2 months ago

How well armed are the F-35’s out of interest? I know that all the drama over gun-pods etc is misplaced but what do they actually have available?

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

ASRAAM, AMRAAM and Paveway 4 currently. Meteor and Spear 3 will be next in a few years time. 👍

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

What about Brimstone and Storm Shadow on the F35s?

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Hi. No to both. But StormShadows replacement might well be. Spear3 will be a beast of a weapon. It’s based on the Brimstone, but it’s more like a mini cruise missile with far longer range. It will also have a antiship capability, and a EW version. Typhoon can carry StormShadow.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Spears 3 and Meteor will be available when block 4 is finally sorted out. The current estimate for this is 2026/7 I believe, plus integration time of course.

Quentin Drury
Quentin Drury
2 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Is block 4 a hardware and software upgrade or just software? Hopefully all or some of these capabilities can be brought forward a bit as don’t we need this all ability now?
Is the F35 capable of carrying 6 or just 4 AMRAAMs internally. And with the ASRAAM, can 4-6 be carried on the wings?

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  DFJ123

All F35s have identical weapon handling software. So technically they all can use each other’s weapons. The issue is the pilots won’t be trained on them, so won’t be fully aware of the envelope restrictions on when they can guarantee a lock on and clean separation.

Esteban
Esteban
2 months ago

Can the UK F-35 carry any anti surface ship missiles?

dan
dan
2 months ago

Should really say “British and USMC F-35s in final……”

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago

News article from the American perspective about the QE deployment for any who are interested. 👍

ps://news.usni.org/2021/04/29/blended-u-s-marine-u-k-royal-air-force-air-wing-aboard-hms-queen-elizabeth-will-be-largest-f-35-deployment-to-date

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Thanks for the link Robert.

Nice to read what our allies think and the differences in operation practices that it highlighted were interesting as well.

Cheers CR

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
2 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

You’re welcome mate. The story from those involved in these deployments, is often very different from various defence news websites that concentrate on the negative. 👍

Andrew D
2 months ago

For me I think our F 35s should have cannons it’s ok to say reley on stealth to keep them out of dog fight but what if the other side have stealth ,Who’s that on my 6 o’clock ?