An F-35B has performed a shipborne rolling vertical landing on-board HMS Queen Elizabeth as jets join the vessel for an upcoming exercise.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently on trials before deployment, part of that involves conducting exercises with all types of carrier-capable aircraft. The Ministry of Defence say that HMS Queen Elizabeth’s Carrier Strike Group’s capabilities will be on show during Exercise ‘Strike Warrior’, which will take place off the coast of Scotland in May.

The UK-led war-fighting exercise, including several other NATO navies, will be the final test for the Carrier Strike Group before it undertakes its maiden deployment, you can read about that deployment here.

Below is the view the pilot would have had, the footage is from 2018 and shows a previous.


What is shipborne rolling vertical landing?

Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing (SRVL) is a capability that allows pilots to return to ship with more stores.

British test pilot Peter Wilson made history recently when he conducted the first ever shipborne rolling vertical landing. The Royal Navy say that previously the jets have conducted only vertical landings, hovering by the side of the ship before moving sideways over the deck and gently lowering down.

There’s a video of the first SRVL on HMS Queen Elizabeth here.

A rolling landing however requires the jet to make a more conventional landing approach, approaching the ship from behind at speed, before using thrust from its nozzle and lift created by air over the wings to touch down and gently come to a stop.

It is a process designed to land jump-jet aircraft that uses both the vertical thrust from the jet engine and lift from the wings, thus maximising the payload an aircraft can return with and stopping the financial waste that comes with dropping expensive weaponry in the sea in order to land vertically. It can also reduce the level of wear on the lift engines and extend their operational life. Similarly, it can reduce the amount of wear upon the deck surface of a carrier caused by the downward jet exhaust from vertical landings.

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Peter S

The most important benefit of the huge deck size of the QE class. Presumably SRVL mainly to be used when hot weather conditions have an adverse effect on engine performance in vertical mode- just as with Harrier.

Ian M.

I think it also means the plane can land carrying more stores/fuel than would be normal for a post op landing.


Yes. Allow to carry heavier munitions without having to drop them in the sea if they cannot fire them in anger.

A saw the test attempts on TV quite a few months ago. It was far more difficult than I had expected. Lots of attempts before doing it, and that with a crack test pilot. So quite a relief really to see them trying it again. I am wondering if instruments have been developed now to make it more useful. But this rolling landing is I believe vitally important

John Clark

I think carrier RVL capability has been written into the control laws of flight control system already.

It just needs to be carefully test pilot de – risked and proven with various loads / sea states etc.

It’s one thing doing this in the Simulator or on a runway, but it’s hard to replicate the pitching deck and wind shear of an aircraft carrier in heavy seas.

If we do end up fitting cats and traps to the QE class, then the new angled deck extension needed, will clearly be very useful for F35B RVL’s.


This may be true, although I’m by no means certain of any of that.

But the tests were on the TV documentary, and it was at sea and it took a great many attempts for the test pilot to do it. And without munitions as I recall.

I’m very keen to see this technique become the norm, but I am interested to know if ship board instruments are used.

Supportive Bloke

It is normal to try something new one step at a time which was what was done. Try step one a few times move onto step two and try that a few times.

Try a few variations at each step to get an idea of wind over deck effects and how the superstructure affects them.

My take on it was that it was a professional approach to paramterise the landing process.


Yes I follow that.

My point is that it was not an easy process and I now wonder if instruments are now available to assist the process.

Supportive Bloke

Yes, they are.

I suspect they existed for the first attempt but that man-in-loop was decreed to scope it out.

I’m not sure how much the Bedford array is really needed given the level of automation on an F35b.

Peter S

I think one of the advantages of F35 over Harrier was its much larger bring back load in vertical landing. Crucial to the USMC who can’t use SRVL. I guess that VL will be the norm unless very hot weather conditions dictate others.
It does look a tricky exercise, even compared with conventional barrier arrest.


You would hope this becomes the “norm” rather than exception for the benefits outlined above. At the relative speed executed is it that more dangerous/difficult that a vertical landing especially with the “Bedford Array” lights installed and automation?

Meirion X

The ‘Bedford Array’ has been installed on PoW, but not on QE, what I read.


I hope the irony of the headline is not lost on the readers…(aircraft lands on aircraft carrier shocker etc etc)

Captain P Wash

Well to be honest, It’s not bad to have one landing…… might not have any more soon, by all accounts…… Can’t wait for the review……. Can I be the first China man to bid on POW as a future Floating Hotel/Casino ?

Robert Blay

Both carriers will remain in service so one carrier is available 365 day’s a year. Unlike the French, with 1 carrier and 40 Rafale M’s.

captain p wash

Yes….. 1 Carrier, 40 M’s to choose from…. 65% of the time in port or dock……


I don’t understand the tenor of this article. Are they landing via SRVL? Is that why there’s a couple of paragraphs on how it works? I thought that wasn’t meant to happen for the time being, and HMS Prince of Wales (when repaired) was to do the third bout of testing (DT-3) off the Virginia coast?

Meirion X

DT-3 was cancelled. Now to take place around British waters instead, and saving about £3M.

Last edited 1 month ago by Meirion X

There are still issues with the heat pad wear coat in its wearing rate, hence the tented village on deck why in dock,

its wearing rate and breakdown is not where if a long campaign a F35 Will burn a hole clean thru the steel.


I wonder if a replaceable AM2 (But designed to take heat) matting landing area could be a solution

Supportive Bloke

Well not for take off; unless purely vertical.

And not for SVRL. Might need some under deck water cooling as well.

Alternatively it might actually be an ablative coating that is designed to vaporize sways as a means of dissipating the heat.


Just for a matter of interest in a dog fight F35 vs FA2 Harrier who would come out on top ?

Robert Blay

F35 has better performance in ever aspect over Harrier, and is fitted with a HMD.

Paul T

Absolutely no Contest – F35 all the Way.


OK everyone will say the F35B but somehow I’m not so sure in a dog-fight. I just need to make clear my understanding of dog fight, up close and personal, if it was army terms its fix bayonet time. So at range the F35B wins, dogfight the only advantage the F35B has is speed, the advanced electronics might help but not much the FA2 can pull more Gs and has some manouvering tricks up its sleeve that the F35B could not match. The FA2 has twin Aden cannon the RAF/FAA F35B has no gun pod as yet. So overall I… Read more »


That’s interesting to know thanks Guys

Paul T

While both Aircraft suffer compromises due to the STOVL Requirements, 40+ years of Airframe Development and a much more Powerful Jet Engine gives the F35b a significant Advantage even in WVR Combat. Even against F16’s they have proved to be no Slouches.


FA2 wasn’t that great a dogfighter, the GR7/9 with LERX were far superior. F-35B would eat a SHAR for breakfast….in every part of the envelope.

And the manoeuvering tricks that you talk of (VIFFING) were never used in combat or trained for as it had little real world utility.

Something different

Great to see, hopefully the defence review doesn’t cut this capability


I think we should play a game of magic bingo regards the words the MOD will come out with on the 16th, I bagsy : ‘Worldbeating’

Daniele Mandelli




Nick C

“Punching above our weight”

Daniele Mandelli

“Our people are our greatest asset”

( while cutting them! )


global britain

maritime power

Soft Power

5 eyes….

and lets not forget

world beating


There are huge advantages all round for the standardisation of this technique. Two questions for you boffins-could part/all of this process be autopiloted? Second-could traps only be fitted to the QE’2s? The main cost by far,as I understand it is in the cats. If there were traps then the F35 could land conventionally. Also the VSTOL ‘B’ has the ability to reduce its approach speed to far lower than a conventional aircraft so a trap in this instance would not need to be constructed to cope with the stresses of high speed landings?
Flat Top Boffins?


Most of the approach in SRVL is automated, control laws and approaches were developed a long time ago at Warton in the simulator.

Traps would cost near the same amount of money as cats. The real cost is the rebuild of the ship. Once its torn open the real costs are already in place, if you were adding traps you may as well add cats.

A full EMALS and AAG set alone will cost c$500m without the design work and dockyard rebuild (which would be extensive).


I would also ask about the stength of the aircraft with regards to the loads from the ‘hook’. Each F35 variant is quite different so it is entirely possible that the tail assembly / rear fuselage of the F35B is NOT stressed for the landing loads.

I would also suggest that there might be similar load concerns for the nose gear / forward fuselage for a cat…

So a switch to CAT and traps might require new aircraft to make use of the extra capabilities…

Cheers CR

Paul T

Indeed CR, even the ‘C’ had to have it’s Tail Hook Redesigned.


Thank you Paul/CR/Rudeboy. So not as simple as a layman like myself would imagine.!


Here’s another thought Gents. Here in South Africa on some steep and dangerous downhills we have dedicated heavy duty lanes with arrestor beds filled with sand for trucks where breaks fail. Perhaps a sand pit half way down the QE’s deck with a sliding cover? :):):)
Maybe not!

Bloke down the pub

According to Sharkey Ward’s book Sea Harrier over the Falklands, early trials on HMS Ark Royal of the P1127 included rolling landings.


GR3s used to do rolling landings when operating from small roads.


I have to say that I think overall the RN and UK industry have done a fantastic job with the carriers. without government interfering these would have come in around £1-2 bn cheaper which would be a stunning achievement. Even set against a Wasp class carrier it is exceptional value for money at £3.6bn per vessel. The one thing I hope the review does resolve once and for all, is the pace of build, the RN/RFA has a requirement to build 3 significant vessels per annum and 100 lesser vessels and I believe this can be accommodated over 4 or… Read more »


something must be happening in the north east of England, for the last week i have seen a constant flow of apache and chinook helicopters heading from what could be RAF Leeming going north, during the morning, but then returning late at night early hours of the morning, neighbours were complaining about the noise but i told them it,s nice to see them out and about rather than sitting around doing nothing, not sure if this has anything to with HMSQE but could have been part of something….


slightly nerdy and off-topic but anyone else notice the starboard propeller wake??