Additional F-35B pilots have now ‘shifted on to night flying as they move closer to becoming carrier qualified’, say the Royal Navy.
HMS Queen Elizabeth recently sailed from her home port of Portsmouth to conduct training with UK F-35 Lightning jets in home waters.
Specifically, the ship is sailing to conduct Carrier Qualifications as well as Landing Signal Officer qualifications with 207 Squadron, the UK’s F-35 Lightning training squadron.
— HMS Queen Elizabeth (@HMSQNLZ) February 3, 2020
HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Commanding Officer, Captain Angus Essenhigh, said in a news release:
“It is a real honour for me to be taking HMS Queen Elizabeth to sea for the first time as her new Commanding Officer. This period at sea will build on the successes of the Westlant 19 deployment, providing a fantastic opportunity for the ship to further its generation towards carrier strike, and will train and qualify UK F-35 pilots in UK waters for the very first time.”
Lieutenant Commander Richard Turrell, Flight Deck Officer on HMS Queen Elizabeth, added:
“This is a fantastic opportunity to further integrate and qualify United Kingdom F-35 pilots, ground crews and aircraft on board HMS Queen Elizabeth in UK waters. My team are excited to get to sea and continue the development of our ship to air wing partnership throughout 2020 and beyond to deploying with full carrier strike capability in 2021.”
207 Squadron are flying aircraft to and from the decks, day and night from their base at RAF Marham. Six pilots, both Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, are carry out their aircraft carrier qualification in that time.
824 Naval Air Squadron personnel have also been honing their night flying & submarine hunting skills on HMS Queen Elizabeth. 824 Naval Air Squadron is based at RNAS Culdrose and is equipped with eight Merlin helicopters.