F-35 Lightning jets launched from HMS Queen Elizabeth have bombed a Scottish island, luckily however the island is part of a bombing range and the bombing was entirely intentional.

Garvie Island is used as a target for a range of training operations and is the only place in the Northern Hemisphere where NATO forces combine land, air and sea capabilities in deploying ordnance up to 1,000-pounds (450 kg). The Island is part of the Cape Wrath training area and is separated from the rest of the mainland by the Kyle of Durness stretch of water.

While our headline above is tongue-in-cheek, this is a routine and completely normal event. No person or animal was at any sort of risk, the reason for the headline is catch out people that don’t read articles before they share them or react to their headlines. Watch this space to see what ‘The National’ says about this.

What’s happening?

HMS Queen Elizabeth will soon be joined by seven British destroyers, frigates and auxiliaries, plus other supporting units, to form a fully sovereign Carrier Strike Group, ready to fight on the surface and in the air, say the Royal Navy.

Her complement of jets comes from two squadrons of F-35Bs, the RAF’s 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) and the US Marines Corps VMFA-211 (Wake Island Avengers).

The Royal Navy also say that With a total of 15 jets and eight Merlin helicopters, it’s the largest concentration of fighter jets to operate at sea from a Royal Navy carrier since HMS Hermes in 1983, and the largest air group of fifth generation fighters at sea anywhere in the world.

Image Crown Copyright 2020.

The Carrier Strike Group will be put through its paces off the north east coast of Scotland as part of Joint Warrior, NATO’s largest annual exercise.

Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, said in a press release:

“The United Kingdom’s maritime renaissance has been unfolding over many years, as we introduced a new generation of ships, submarines and aircraft into service. But this marks the first time we have brought them together in a cohesive, potent, fighting force. HMS Queen Elizabeth will be operating with the largest air group of fifth generation fighters assembled anywhere in the world. Led by the Royal Navy, and backed by our closest allies, this new Carrier Strike Group puts real muscle back into NATO and sends a clear signal that the United Kingdom takes its global role seriously.”

Image Crown Copyright 2020.

617 Squadron Commanding Officer, Royal Navy Commander Mark Sparrow, was quoted as saying:

“This is an incredibly exciting time for 617 Squadron as we begin a new era of partnership with the US Marine Corps building towards next year’s operational deployment with HMS Queen Elizabeth. You need to go back more than three decades to find the UK operating anything on this scale or complexity and this is a first for fifth-generation carrier capability. The era of big-deck, fast jet carrier operations is back.”

Image Crown Copyright 2020.

VMFA-211 arrived in the UK just under two weeks ago. Their Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Freshour USMC, was quoted as saying:

“The Wake Island Avengers are ready in all respects to work with the British sailors and aircrew on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. We are looking forward to deploying alongside our British counterparts over the next few months, and we will work tirelessly as a part of this transatlantic naval force. We are proud to play such an important role in the generation of an allies’ carrier strike capability.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth has welcomed UK and US F-35B jets for a major exercise

Captain James Blackmore, the UK’s Carrier Air Wing Commander, added:

“We are going to learn a huge amount from operating F-35Bs at sea with the USMC, they have had them longer and we can share ideas and practices. But this is much more than that; this is the trans-Atlantic alliance in action, demonstrating that two close allies can not only fly from each other’s carriers, but can fight alongside each other should we need to. This level of integration offers a decisive flexibility in times of crisis, conflict or war.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth has welcomed UK and US F-35B jets for a major exercise

The Royal Navy say that HMS Queen Elizabeth, along with her 1,680 sailors, aviators and marines, is due to return to her home port of Portsmouth next month.

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Sceptical Richard

Great! Fantastic! Good to see at last. But I wish they’d stop banging on about autonomy. We’ve got Americans on board for Pete’s sake. These MoD wallers that write these statements for the poor commanding officers to make really need to tone it down a bit. But anyway, great to see


The Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming! haha


Agreed, this is a major reason why we are having quite serious legitimacy issues with teh US at the moment. They read all of this kind of thing and then take a look at what we’ve actually got and see a major shortfall. I’m not criticising our capabilties, I’m very proud of them. But there is a noticeable disconnect between what comes out of government and MOD press releases and where we actually are. Carrier strike as a capability isn’t even at IOC yet, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that we were ready to sail into the SCS and… Read more »

Steve R

If we’re now bombing islands I’d like to suggest we bomb Love Island next!

Last edited 4 months ago by Steve R
Daniele Mandelli

And the Big Brother House!


I can’t wait to hear the SNP official statement about Royal Navy aggression against Scotland.


Shes starting to look and sound like a carrier. With the intergration of surface combatants the strike group is coming together. However before she goes on ative operations she and her group need to work with an SSN and do simulatated damaged aircraft. I still wonder how she would deal with a aircraft that is damaged where it cannot land in the vertical mode. Would it be ditched? There does not seem to be a crash barrier and no emergancy arroestor gear. I have come to the conclussion that the F35B should have some swivel nossels like the good old… Read more »


I don’t really know what to say to that. I don’t agree with your anti labour bits (tories have cut specs etc) but i don’t want to denigrate your service or pain.

I think in hindsight we could have prevented the war by having a stronger carrier force. We could also have stopped it politically by not being soft and making noises about not caring


Damo, Its ok, its not that its anti Labour well it could be seen that way. Many years ago the Tories had the reputation for defending and improving defence expenditure whilst Labout cut. Now the two political parties are as bad as each other. As for service, it was my job, I went in knowing full well that there was the off chance of something bad happening. I joined in the time of the Troubles in full swing, it was one of the reasons I joined I wanted to try and help to stop people killing men, women and children… Read more »


Update on the USS Bonhomme Ricard commissioned, as you may remember she is one of the few american ships that has been retrofit to carry F-35 but in dock suffered a five day fire in July. Well damage assessors have still not been able to gain access 3 months later as the ship is still being treated as a crime scene she is only 22 years old so not an overly old ship and has only just been refit, but reportedly she is a total writeoff of everything above the hangars and may have suffered temperature fatigue to its structure.… Read more »

Paul C

No expert but to me bringing the Peleliu out of reserve is the best option, at least for now. Could she not be used with just helicopters and AV-8Bs for a few years until a long-term solution is worked out? At least this would bring a replacement ship into service and buy some time. Repairing the Bonhomme Richard may well not be feasible and even it it is possible means several years in dockyard hands and an astronomical bill.


Where’s Harold, normaly any mention of Scotland he does his usual troll rant! Come on old man don’t let us down, your piffle is quite amusing.


Just watched a Discovery channel series about the last deployment of Ark Royal, very informative about life on a carrier, young men and women working hard for our country
Then Cameron turns up just after becoming PM and standing on the deck and praising everyone in sight then returns to London and getting rid of the aircraft carriers and the Harrier’s.
Very sad for our military

Daniele Mandelli

Yes. Remember though most Harriers were cut by Labour, not Cameron.
Apart from that, yes, he’s the absolute pits!

Steve R

Both as bad as each other.

Labour always cut defence and the Tories always talk tough about defence and how they will properly fund the armed forces… all the time they are in opposition. The moment they are in power, it’s more cuts.

Daniele Mandelli

Pretty much spot on to my thinking Steve.


There has been a lot of really good reports from the MoD on the carrier’s work up and deployment with the USMC. But has there been any press releases from the USMC deployed on the carrier. It would be interesting to hear their views of working from and living on the carrier?


I bet the Marines are happy that this isn’t a “dry” ship. lol


Hi folks hope all are well.
Yes this great to see, and demonstraits NATO having the assets when required, now that the UK has two large capable carriers based in Europe with supporting craft, and if needed to opperate alone if we have to.
However, how would this force face China or Rusia if needed to do so, you experts pleas advise me.

Nigel Collins

Hi George, hope this finds you well too? I think we might have a small problem, but I could be wrong of course! “New ships are being put to sea at an impressive rate. Between 2014 and 2018, China launched more submarines, warships, amphibious vessels, and auxiliaries than the number of ships currently serving in the individual navies of Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Eighteen ships were commissioned by China in 2016 alone and at least another 14 were added in 2017.2 By comparison, the US Navy commissioned 5 ships in 2016 and 8 ships in 2017. Should China continue to commission ships… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins

As for Russia,

Russian Navy 2020 :: List of Active Russian Navy Ships and Submarines



Many thanks Nigel, very impressive list, however does this mean Rusia also can match the west / NATO in quality, trianing and professionalism? Mistakingly I was under the impression many of Rusia’s ships are not very sea worty in poor condition.

Nigel Collins

I posted this first but for some reason It’s awaiting moderation? Hi George, hope this finds you well too? I think we might have a small problem, but I could be wrong of course! “New ships are being put to sea at an impressive rate. Between 2014 and 2018, China launched more submarines, warships, amphibious vessels, and auxiliaries than the number of ships currently serving in the individual navies of Germany, India, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Eighteen ships were commissioned by China in 2016 alone and at least another 14 were added in 2017.2 By comparison, the US Navy commissioned 5 ships in 2016… Read more »

Nigel Collins

I have attempted to post twice in regard to China’s Navy but for some reason they’re both awaiting moderation.

350 battle force ships

The Pentagon’s 2020 Military and Security Developments on the People’s Republic of China says the PLAN is “numerically the largest navy in the world” with 350 battle force ships, or ships that are able to contribute to combat operations

It could have as many as 425 battleships by 2030


Hi Nigel,
Hope you are well, and as ever valued I information.
Interesting to see this information, and is very impressive when one considers the numbers, although I’d like to think that when on the subject of quantity against quality in respect to military matters, history demonstraits bigist is not always the best.
Would you agree?
Many thanks

Mark B

Hi Nigel some of these surely are not very active – the aircraft carrier for example. Is there a list which shows which ones have a valid MOT certificate so to speak.

Nigel Collins

It’s the latest I could find Mark B, but you’re quite right. They appear to be upping their game?


Last edited 4 months ago by Nigel Collins
Robert Blay

The aircraft carrier is in bits, most of the fleet needs tugs to follow it, id take that list with a very large pinch of salt.

Ryan Brewis

Fifteen jets? How many are RAF and how many USMC?

Daniele Mandelli

I read differing answers here from 4 to 6 RAF.


Harold, Harold? Are you ok?


My comment about the SNP was obviously totally in jest and apologies if it offended

peter french

IM not being Facetious but “Our Global Role” says Steve Moorhouse , id be interested to know what our Global role is and who determines it . “


Can someone pop round to Harold’s house and look through the letterbox for flies in the living room. I’m starting to fear the worst.


Anyone know what we dropped? I’m assuming it was Paveway IV, as I believe it’s the only ground attack ordnance currently cleared on UK F35s. Did the USMC bring anything fun?


So, how much is all this costing? When was the last time Great Britain was invaded? Someone remind me.


This makes me proud to be British.