HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35 jets have been out to sea a few times now for trials and exercises so it’s hard to imagine people, especially a Member of Parliament, spreading the ‘carrier with no planes’ myth.

With the almost two years of imagery and videos showing British F-35B jets operating from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, you can imagine my surprise this morning to read the following tweet from a Member of Parliament.

This one even gets repeated by politicians from all parties, many of you will be aware of our Twitter campaign to correct this claim across the political spectrum.

Claims the carrier do not have any aircraft are simply incorrect, the ships were built and aircraft were ordered with both entering service at roughly the same time.

The first jets touched down in 2018.

In 2023, the UK will have 42 F-35 aircraft, with 24 being front-line fighters and the remaining 18 will be used for training (at least 5 on the OCU), be in reserve or in maintenance.

F-35Bs on HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2018.

There are a number of myths surrounding HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, you can read more about them here.

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Daniele Mandelli

Apologies for OT. Huawei banned from UK network.


They have finally made a decision to ban? Wondering when this would happen


From 2027. They are either a security risk or they aren’t so why on earth in 7 years time!

Mark B

The Huawei kit is first generation so will be rubbish anyway. Other suppliers will be developing better stuff by the time 5G is used widely.


The rationale behind the change in policy relates to the NCSC’s assessment of the company’s ability to deliver capability long-term while subject to US sanctions that prevent them sourcing semiconductor components, rather than security per se. If a political decision were made to terminate the company’s involvement due to the deteriorating relationship with China, I would expect to see a different time-scale.

Mark B

I suspect as the years roll by the phrase “Made in China” will be seen less and less for a variety of reasons.


That’s good, I don’t mind paying a little extra for Western are goods. Who would? Oh yeah big business and the rich to profit off.


“Made” not are!


I’ll take us further off topic since there seems to be no article forthcoming on what could potentially be one of the most significant developments for the UK sovereign capability in decades – the purchase of the 45% stake in OneWeb together with a UK golden share giving veto on any subsequent equity sales and also approval of all customers wanting to use the network. It’s a huge gamble, and HMG will almost certainly have to put in quite a lot of extra cash to get the network completed, and even then there’s the significant technology gamble on whether Low… Read more »

Glass Half Full

Good off topic and good points but then I’m biased on the topic as you know 😉

Andy P

Forgive me but isn’t this a bit of a ‘non story’. Here’s a quote from the tweet.

“We did have an aircraft carrier with no planes”.

That’s “DID”, past tense. Its hardly spreading rumours or “myths”.

Barry Larking

Hello Andy. I have read the same facts about the carriers and no planes this morning. Personally I would not have proceeded with either carriers or this aeroplane; but here we are and we have to make this work.

Mark Latchford

That’s just what I thought Andy. As unusual as it is for me to defend an MP, he was clearly talking in the past tense….

Mark B

How do you feel about Huawei Harold? You forgot to mention it in your anti-British rant?

Daniele Mandelli

Your cut and paste rant seems to have been copied from “Sputnik News” 🙂 “The rollout of a new Royal Navy torpedo intended to ‘match’ the capabilities of Chinese and Russian submarines has been delayed – because the Royal Navy has no watercraft capable of firing it.” Spearfish has been in service for years. This is an updated variant. “MoD will also be selling off the remainder of its 3,200 armoured troop carriers in a cost-saving exercise. Bought for £2.5 billion less than ten years ago, the Mastiff, Ridgeback, Husky and Wolfhound vehicles will be replaced by 500 Boxer armoured… Read more »


If it is the case that the MRAPs will be sold off, still begs the question of why?
They still have a lot of uses and as you say will still remain a requirement for any UN or counter-insurgency roles we may be involved in the future. Yes it about time we had a decent armoured people carrier, i.e. Boxer. But for the softly softly approach is Boxer the right type of vehicle?

Daniele Mandelli

“But for the softly softly approach is Boxer the right type of vehicle?”

You’re the man to answer that, but not in my opinion. Surely, what is in effect a huge armoured lorry looks less wary than a tracked “Tank” when hearts and minds is involved.

This was touched on by the DSC talking with CDS. Down to money and priorities apparently.

Foxhound, Jackal both excluded from the list, luckily.

Hopefully some Mastiff will be retained.


Hi folks hope are all well. Fully agree Daniele, where on earth does Harold find his misinformation. Even defence novices such as I can see what utter nonsense the information is. I often find the best response to such articles is no response and consider them with contempt. In regard to QE’s deployment, I gather this is to prove a point and demonstrate that international sea routes are to be kept open to all nations, and basically inform China that the free world is not going to tolerate any damage to trade or frustrate and hamper economic status. Maybe now… Read more »

Meirion X

I hope someone is Investigating H, and to find out where he get the disinformation from, George?

Daniele Mandelli

M, copy and paste his piece into Google. Sputnik news has an almost identical piece.

Meirion X

Yes Daniele, I have now found it on Mr Putin’s propaganda website, the comments there are of the level of drunkard louts!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins

A possible clue in this article re Loyal Wingman?

“The agreement is a sign of intent to formalise a number of ongoing initiatives between the two [nations’] armies, boosting opportunities to co-operate effectively as modern warfare continues to evolve,” the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said. “Key cutting-edge capabilities have been identified for closer collaboration to help narrow the gaps between UK and US forces so we can operate seamlessly together in future battlespaces.”


Many thanks Nigel, Yes good news indeed and a good read.
I gather there were plans to commence this type of activity along with once fixed wing and rotary training and practice was underway. Yet another asset for the UK to put under it’s belt. No doubt this will be another negative media and sceptics subject.


The ‘copy & paste’ is strong with this one…. (in Yoda voice).

Meirion X

More Fake News by the ‘Champagne Socialist’!
All RN submarines are equipped with the Spearfish torpedoes.
I will be better if You spent your time learning something genuine about the UK’s armed forces, then posting silly comments.

Richard Edwards-Davies

Well said, Meirion X, Rfn_Weston, Daniele and Mark B. I’m in hospital after a major Back op and the nurses are limiting me to 15 minutes use. They said my blood pressure goes up w7hen reading articles from certain websites 😂😂

Daniele Mandelli

Get well soon Richard.

Richard Edwards-Davies

Thank you Daniele, that’s very kind of you to say so and very much appreciated.

Meirion X

Best Wishes Richard! I hope for a speedy recovery for you!
Wish you well, Meirion!

Nigel Collins




Richard Edwards-Davies

Thank you to all of you for the best wishes. It was my fault that I had the accident in which I broke 8 Vertebrae. I had an Epileptic seizure at the top of the stairs at home. I wouldn’t recommend it to you lol. Hope you are all well yourselves.


your point is?

Mark B

Whilst I agree this is a myth (that politicians will continue to chuck around) it might be more effective to discuss the assets we currently have and how they might be effectively deployed in a range of military emergencies.

Your average Joe public knows nothing about the military other than the negative stuff that floats around in the papers, BBC etc.

The military need more effective publicity otherwise the call for additional funding is likely to fall on deaf ears.


The Times today leads with UK to forward one QE class carrier in far east. And one to be deployed with NATO to northern atlantic. Ok, so it only says it may happen. How can we simultaneously deploy 2xaircraft carriers? We certainly don’t have enough aircraft to stock both with f35 as discussed on this forum. I assume the far eastern vessel would be F35 heavy whilst the NATO vessel would have more of a focus on ASW and so Merlin heavy. The far eastern version is likely to rely on regional navies for escorts and even USMC and/or JSDF… Read more »


Hi Julian, At the moment I am pretty sure that the Armed Forces will be OK at least for the short to medium term. Why? Because any kind of austerity will be a disaster for what’s left of the economy. Cutting the Armed Forces, is as we all know, not just about the military but crucially the considerable supply chain supporting them and with some suggestions that unemployment is heading towards 3m (12%) any cuts would just make a bad situation even worse. Hence my optimism (if that is the right word these days) for the Army Forces. Of course,… Read more »


Bloody hell Harold, your post is pure cut and paste regurgitated gibberish! Its good that your posts are back to normal, ie total piffle, long and boring, as its always a great laugh reading them. But come on son, get your Kremlin proof reader to put his cheap reading glasses on and check that you are at least slightly coherant. I have no clue where you are getting your chuff but you are certainly not earning those 2 buckets of potatoes and that 4 litre of trabant two stroke you get a weak. I hear N Korea are looking for… Read more »


A weak? oops Harold in English that should week, but in fact, the first version is more suited to you…………


LOL spot on.


I’m surprised he operates under Harold here instead of “Iqbal.” He always had to option of callign anyone who disagreed with him an “islamophobe” under the old name.


The Times are reporting today that the RN are considering keeping a carrier in the UK for NATO duties and the other in Singapore (under the 5 power defence agreement) with Australian, Malaysian, Singaporean, Japanese & South Korean escorts and F35Bs embarked as an allied / commonwealth response to Chinese naval ambitions in the South China Sea. Seems to me that this has 3 big problems: 1. The point of having two carriers is to have continual carrier strike ability. Deploying them separately means continual carrier strike would no longer be available. 2. Our carrier strike wing is designed to… Read more »


agreed, I suspect the report is inaccurate or over-exaggerated. It kind of turns all the assumptions on their heads for UK carrier strike. Facing of China in their own backyard is one for the US and regional powers. We should focus on NATO commitments, the med and the gulf.


Agree Julian. If we put one of our two carriers out there the USN will need to keep another carrier in the Atlantic. So there is no net gain apart from simple vanity.

Nigel Collins

I read an article some time back which suggested that the USA will focus its military resources on the South China Sea while Europe needs to take care of its borders against any future Russian aggression should a conflict break out on two fronts at the same time.

A clear indication that we and other partner nations need to get our acts together and increase spending on defence.

Personally, I would be amazed if we don’t see some sort of military confrontation in the South China Sea this decade.

Nigel Collins

Australia appears to be doing what we here in the UK should, purchasing new equipment!

Nigel Collins

I wonder why?

“A joint venture (JV) between Australia’s Varley Group and Rafael will supply the Spike LR2 for the Boxers, most of which will be of the combat reconnaissance vehicle variant.”


It’s coming… Sooner then most expect too IMO…



Well, with the recent probable loss of the USS Bonhomme Richard and F-35Bs planned for the Izumos it seems to me that a Singapore based QE force with UK and USMC F-35Bs would be a suitable focus for a coalition fleet tasked with maintaining freedom of navigation in the SCS. NSM on the F-35B would be nice.

Alan Reid

“Carriers with no planes”, is a very old story indeed! Much loved, in particular, by Scottish Nationalists, who spare no effort to ridicule the UK – and its alleged great-power pretentions. Its origin is probably in the lamentable withdrawal of Harrier GR9 in Dec 2010, and the reduction of Illustrious to a mere “helicopter carrier” until 2014. So there is some historic basis for the jeer! Even today, it’s a quip too delicious not to be used by Smart Alec’s – and it’s now become a shorthand for procurement bungling by the MoD. Unfortunately, I fear this one will run… Read more »

Paul C

Probably true, but RN fixed-wing carrier capability effectively disappeared before 2010. You need to go back to 2004-6 when the Sea Harrier FA2s were prematurely axed and Invincible decommissioned 7 years early despite a recent major refit.

The Harrier GR9s could not perform the naval fighter role and the handful of aircraft actually operational were deployed mainly in Afghanistan. We could not have put together a carrier air group even if we had wanted to. Illustrious and Ark Royal were to all intents and purposes helicopter carriers from 2007 onwards.


Let’s be honest, the QE has been to sea with F35Bs , but only a max of 4 on a vessel designed to operate 36……we simply don’t have the numbers to give the ship a decent airwing. Next year on its IOC, QE will have 8 UK jets, and apparently only 6 USMC – a grand total of 14…….it is sad to put it mildly, we have 2 x carriers and cannot put an airwing on one……

Nigel Collins

The actual cost per aircraft and the delay in block 4 software (2026/7) will clearly play a part in how many we actually purchase.

An interesting observation in the comments section by JohnHartley, particularly when you consider the B variant is more expensive than the A.

Meirion X

I am sure the RN could form another F-35 Squadron with the 18 extra F-35Bs by 2023, which could give 3 squadrons available to be deployed and a OCU for training?


By 2023 we will have 42, which will be 24 frontline and 18 OCU, maintenance and spares. The QEC won’t sail with more than 24 UK jets and in many cases 12. That is the plan unless we order more B variant, we will just have to wait and see.


42 with only 24 in front line service? Why would that be? To have that many 5th gen aircraft and only put 24 in front line is madness! We should be aiming for 3 x Squadrons of 12 with 6 in the OCU. 809 RN squadron has yet to stand up, glory to the RAF with 617. Are the RAF planning on holding the B variants hostage and starving the navy as it did with the Invincibles until it gets some A versions?

Daniele Mandelli

You need to take into account the OEU, and those rotated into depth maintenance and attrition reserve, thus out of the “forward” fleet.

Having all 42 in front line service and the OCU is not how things work, just like having all 6 T45 in service.


I’m aware of the maintenance requirements, but 24 out of 42 is still not acceptable. Every sqn has a number of aircraft undertaking various maintenance at differing times, and hangar queens awaiting spares….but in this case we need more than 24 fully active.


We will be at 48 by 2025 it seems so perhaps we will have more like 30 on the front line by then. Given we were only ever going to operate one carrier at once 30 seems like a decent number.

You also have to bear in mind what the initial deliveries were, basic models used for testing and training but which are not suitable for combat without very costly upgrades, if that is even possible.

john melling

Why did they not separate the number required for the OCU from the required “front line”, “on the deck” F35s
The OCU number needed should have been separate…

12 or more for OCU
4 x 12 for Squadrons (48) on both Carriers


It’s the number on the deck that is the important part, no less than 2 squadrons each carrier.

Playing fantasy fleets is great, but we need investment in real life and it’s been ignored and we get cutbacks and excuses

Meirion X

The RAF use simulaters most of the time for training pilots now.
That’s why OCU’s now are of only a few aircraft.

john melling

Morning Meirion X

I completely forgot about the flight sims ;P


Maybe they have a point. Looks pretty empty to me…

comment image

Nigel Collins

An interesting article, albeit a little dated!

“BAE Systems Introduces a Navalized Typhoon Option”

Nigel Collins

comment image

john melling

I still think it should have been introduced into service ;P
I loved the idea


An aircraft carrier with no aircraft. Could be worse. What about a Pub with no Beer!? This is what we have now in South Africa with our President banning the sale of alcohol as Covid takes hold!

peter french

Just shows the almost deliberate stupidity of some MP,S . The Carrier has to undergo Sea Trials for a long period of time to test procedures, systems , train crew and all the other requirements before then starting to test Aircraft landing procedures etc etc .
One wonders what is the reason for these people to make spurious statements , I suppose some people will beleive what is being said but why,

Daniele Mandelli

Because they, like the numpties ignoring all HMG advice on social distancing, are ignorant idiots?


Soon HMS QE will carry out trials with swarm drones and loyal wingman. Not much on details, but this is sooner than i expected.

john melling

To quote them…”Janes first reported on 15 February 2019 that the UK was looking to create a carrier-capable unmanned aircraft as part of its wider efforts to develop the Tempest next-generation combat aircraft”

What does a carrier-capable UAV \ wingman have to do with the Tempest

Tempest won’t be flying off a carrier, the F35 will

If we are looking at a carrier-capable UAV then surely they want it to work with the F35 first of all


This is nothing new we started WW1, with no heavy artillery.