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A new group of UK pilots are trained and ready to fly the UK’s cutting-edge F-35 fighter jet which is now cleared for take-off from HMS Queen Elizabeth following successful trials using the ski-ramp design featured on the UK flagship.

20 COMMENTS

  1. We got lucky re carrier / harrier gap – but I’ll take the luck.

    UK carrier strike will be awesome. QE, F-35, Merlin, T26, T45, Astute, Tide, Wildcat. We don’t have the depth we should but as a strike group it’s as good as any in the world.

    Still bothered about lack of missile point defence though – only carrier in world without and they all have great AAW escort support.

  2. According to The Times today the UK will procure and have delivered 48 F35B by 2026 ( for the hard at counting that’s 9 years away) at a total cost of around £9bn.

    The cost includes infrastructure, upgrades, maintenance and weapons.

    The government has declined to commit to further purchases beyond that date, but has an ambition to procure more in the future.

    To me the £9bn sounds about right, however I am disappointed that tempo of orders and deliveries is slow.

    Aspiration of 4 squadrons and an OCU equipped with F35 look a long way off.

  3. I wonder if there’s a possibility of the carrier flight trials being brought forward? In understand currently this is set for Autumn next year but if the carrier gets IOC in the coming months and everything on the F35 side is ready – might be an opportunity…

      • Also some info on HMS QE.

        “HMS Queen Elizabeth should sail for the second phase of her sea trials in October and will formally commission in December. She will sail for heavy weather trials in the North Atlantic in the first quarter of 2018. During this time she will also focus on rotary-wing certification and trials with embarked Wildcats, Merlin Mk2s, Merlin HC4s, Army Air Corps Apache and RAF Chinook”

        “HMS QE will be back alongside for a further planned “defect rectification and capability insertion” period in mid-2018. The main work will be adding equipment to support F-35 operations such as the Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS) and set up ALIS – the F-35 aircraft maintenance system. In the later part of 2018 HMS QE will sail with HMS Montrose as her escort to the East Coast of the US. She will embark Royal Marines who will be flown ashore to exercise with the US Marine Corps. Off the Eastern Seaboard of the US, the first F-35Bs will land on HMS QE to begin flying trials. Two specially instrumented “orange-wired” F-35B test aircraft and four pilots will be aboard for 8 weeks of trials and evaluation. Short Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) will be practiced for the first time outside a simulator. This complex manoeuvre will allow the aircraft to return safely to the ship with a weight of unused weapons or fuel. The technique is controversial, many F-35 naysayers expect it to prove unworkable.”

  4. The Royal Navy will soon have the most modern fighting fleet, of first rate ships (some of the very best of their types in the world) that will really make the politicians from a potential adversary state think twice before engaging in a shootout.

  5. The uk carrier strike will be awesome 2nd only to the US navy in capability. Although China is fast developing a nucleus of carrier capability. The UK has some problems though that need further clarification in the next SDSR
    hoe many active F35Bs is the uk going to operate at any time?
    ideally more than 90+ so both carriers could be used or one carrier loaded to the hilt and some residual F35Bs for RAF tasking.
    The QE carrier does need a point defence missile system and is noted as the only carrier in the world without one.
    seems to be penny pinching in the extreme for what is an essential layer of defence for our flagship
    Escort and submarine numbers need increasing. Our current fleet is unable to do much more than protect QE and maybe another surface group and that is all.
    If we really are growing the RN then lets get the orders in now and get the ships built.
    We really need more astute class subs, these are war winners, easily able to defeat any adversary and having just 7 attack subs is inadequate.
    concurrent to the Successor class we need a follow on order for another 3-4 astutes.
    cant afford this?
    then stop sending £13 billion a year abroad in foreign aid!

    • Agree with aid budget reduction. Politicians of all parties are not interested in defence so I highly doubt your shopping list will be fulfilled save threat if a major war.

  6. Yes, the UK carrier strike capability will be impressive when fully ramped up. Once significant numbers of F35s are available, no country except the US will be able to deploy more capable task groups.

    Our ability to help in non-wartime situations should be considerably enhanced, too. Imagine what HMS Queen Elizabeth could do off the coast of Puerto Rico with a dozen Chinooks loaded to supplement the usual strike and force protection aircraft.

    Our Achilles heel is an unproven ability to survive an attack by the principal weapon of both of all of our most powerful potential adversaries – swarms of agile, supersonic anti-ship missiles. I’m not sure how we intend to sink enemy warships, either but that’s another conversation.

  7. Heres my thoughts on the F35,ive posted elsewhere so apologies if this sounds familiar-I think we could get more bang for our buck so to speak if we can stretch to getting a mixed fleet of F35’s.Heres my reasoning why,first id equip the 2 proposed FAA squadrons with the F35B as planned.This should enable enough capability for a decent Carrier strike group.Second id equip 617 squadron plus the proposed otherRAF squadron with the F35C rather than the F35A.The reason for this is like the F35A it has more range and payload than the ‘B’ its considerably cheaper,plus you get the benefits of simpler logistics and training using the same ‘base’ Aircraft if you can call it that,If in the future it was decided to convert one or both of the carriers to CATOBAR then hey presto we would already have the correct aircraft in our inventory.We are currently involved in bombing missions against ISIS using Cyprus as a base so its not always going to be the case that we need Carriers for strike missions etc,so I think it would be a win win for our cash strapped forces if we had at least a squadron of the most effective version of the F35 for long range strike.

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