The U.S. Navy say that this mission was the first time in modern history the United States has cross-decked aircraft for a mission utilising a foreign aircraft carrier, in this case HMS Queen Elizabeth.

According to the U.S. Navy here, U.S. Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211 conducted a

first-of-its-kind operation which saw F-35B aircraft launched from HMS Queen Elizabeth land on the amphibious assault ship USS America to load ordnance, refuel, and strike follow-on objectives on August 20th, 2021.

“The operation highlighted the interoperability of the F-35B and the strategic importance of the joint integration between the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group (UK CSG) and the U.S. Navy Amphibious Ready Group / Marine Expeditionary Unit. This mission was the first time in modern history the United States has cross-decked aircraft for a mission utilizing a foreign aircraft carrier, demonstrating naval partnerships in action.”

U.S. F-35B currently embarked on aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth takes off from the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS America.

“The evolution underscored our continued effort to shift away from static, built-up airfields towards distributed maritime operations (DMO),” said Col. Simon Doran, U.S. Senior National Representative to the UK CSG.

“Doing so as part of the United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group 21 strengthens our alliances and partnerships through the development of interoperable capabilities, combined operations, theater security cooperation, and capacity-building efforts.”

VMFA-211 Flies Cross-Deck Mission from HMS Queen Elizabeth to USS America

The United Kingdom and the United States of America have been proving interoperability between their ships and strike fighter squadrons while at sea.

F-35B jets from 617 Squadron and from United States Marine Corps squadron VMFA 211 are embarked on the Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth and they have been conducting sorties with the aircraft of amphibious assault ship USS America.

The Royal Navy said in a news release:

“F-35B jets from the United States Marine Corps Squadron VMFA 211 are embarked on the Royal Navy flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth. As part of joint exercising between the UK Carrier Strike Group and the US Expeditionary Strike Group 7, two of the jets flew to the US Navy amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) to cross-deck, the first time ever that F-35B jets from a different squadron have landed on the different deck.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flag ship for Carrier Strike Group 21(CSG21). CSG21 will see the ship along with the Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other Countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7 month deployment.

The Strike Group includes ships from the United States Navy, The Dutch Navy, and Marines from the US Marine Corps. As well as UK Frigates, Destroyers, a submarine, two RFA supply ships and air assets from 617 Sqn, 820 NAS, 815 NAS and 845 NAS. This will be the largest deployment of Fifth Generation Fighter Jets in history.”

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
56 Comments
oldest
newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago

One of the interesting things to watch for will be whether there’s any change in USN policy on ramps on it’s LPH’s. There’s going to be a lot of data from CSG21 on air operations. I presume USMC would be in favour or at least the Fixed Wing aircrew.

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

I don’t think the US Navy would go down that route, a ramp would take up too much space on the already confined area of a LHD flight deck…..

George Parker
George Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

They already have huge carriers with cats and traps and it is unlikely the USMC would operate without USN support. So no need to compromise and squeeze every last bit of advantage from the F35B/ramp. Fixed wing assets with long legs and air to air refuelling options in abundance.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  George Parker

The USMC will be the majority operator of fifth gen aircraft for the forseeable future. Against a peer or near peer enemy it will be them doing the heavy lifting of combat ops prior to amphib assault. For that at least initially they’ll be operating from the LHA’s .

George Parker
George Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Hi David. In a peer on peer conflict, I honestly cannot see the US deploying an amphibious task group without the support of conventional carrier(s). The excellent USMC on their own could not hope to provide superiority/supremacy aircover for the flotilla, while using fully laden F35B’s to give close support. Even if they have a reputation for achieving the near impossible, that would be too big of an ask. Against a lesser adversary, it would be a different thing entirely. Perhaps you did not mean combat ops to include standing combat patrols for fleet air defence. Only ground assault and… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  George Parker

In a peer on peer combat the USN’s F18’s couldn’t operate without heavy EW support the only aircraft that have proved able to are the F35’s. The large majority of which for the forseeable future will be provided by the USMC.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

They won’t go that route. The advantages of a Ramp have been apparent to the USMC for years, through multiple attachments to the RN over the 80’s and 90s.

The basic view of the USMC/USN is that their LPH’s are primarily about putting bodies from the sea, onto the land, and not to provide a fixed wing strike platform, and because a ramp would take at least 3 Helicopter landing spots (4 if you believe the USN) out of action, there is no way the USN will compromise the LPH’s primary mission in favour of improving it’s secondary one.

JAMES
JAMES
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Operating from their LPHs is not a primary mission and they still don’t see it as such. Typically Harriers would use them for a very short term before moving to land based infrastructure.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  JAMES

That’s not necessarily how the USMC see the LHA’s and F35B’s. They plan to operate from sea or land for extended periods with equal capability.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

That’s how a friend of mine who is in the USM and flies Harriers explained it. Pretty sure he knows what he is talking about.

Jon
Jon
1 month ago
Reply to  JAMES

USS America and Tripoli LHAs are a special case, having been build with extra hangar space and no well decks. I think it would make sense for them to have a ramp if it shortens the takeoff distance enough to allow simultaneous landing at the rear.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

It may be possible but it will depend on whether the USN go forward with the Lightning carrier concept. If they see a requirement for a “light carrier” using F35Bs, then yes I could see them incorporating the ramp. However, the LHA/LHDs are not really designed for sustained air ops, as the well deck and additional personnel quarters take up a lot of space, which reduces the magazine capacity. It’s therefore likely that a new purpose made “light carrier” would be produced.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Apart from a few other minor improvements over a ramp and flat. USMC lost more Harrier pilots than ANY other force due to pilot dipping.

Its why the F35s are hands-free take-off and landing, just push the idiot button.

pilot survivability when using a Ramp to flat is 100% increased that 50 ft bump makes a huge difference.

but A Carrier is not an Assault ship and vice versa, due to having a hanger and a dock space is restricted.

maybe they will design a flat top with a Thunderbird 2 launch ramp…..lol

John Clark
John Clark
1 month ago

It would be be good if 617 Squadron could have taken part too, there might be occasions in the future when we need to embark with the US Navy.

Steve
Steve
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Different tak-off techniques which is probably why only USMC could do as they are current on both. We should try and do a reverse exchange one of the NAS Sqn’s do a deployment on an LHD 🙂 oh wait we probably won’t ever have enough aircraft 🙁

George Parker
George Parker
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Something that will come back to bite us, sooner than expected.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

HI Steve, I read an article recently on USNI News quoting Ben Wallce as syaing UK F35B would likely operate from US, Italian and Japanese carriers in the future. It also suggested that the UK was open to these nations putting their aircraft on UK carriers an dthat there was a lot of reciprocal interest. However, I got the impression that all of this was some way off as all of the nations (except perhaps the USMC) are focused on developing their own capabilities. As for UK numbers, 60 to 80 inservice is probably where we are heading. Adding in… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

Hi John, The evolution involved USMC / USN personnel onboard the UK carrier and obviously the USN ship, so no issues with different weapons and or operating proceedures. Although, the US personnel on board the QE will by necessity be doing things differently, for example,there are differences in weapons handling proceedures that are reflected in the design of the ship so the US personnel will be doing somethings the UK way. However, as a general rule I think they will be the only one’s with full clearance to work on US aircraft. Likewise I think only UK personnel are will… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Yes, there is US eyes only space. It was designed in from the very beginning.

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  John Clark

not qualified to roll from a flat deck.

Geoffi
Geoffi
1 month ago

So, I am a bit confused…
If F-35Bs can take off from LHA-6 (257m), why do we need a ski ramp on R08 (280m) at all ???

Geoffi
Geoffi
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

Fuelled and armed F-35Bs, I mean…

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

The ramp allows greater take off weight. More fuel or ordnance or both.

Harry
Harry
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

As well as shorter take off w/ the same weight if the deck is busy.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Harry

Yep. Thanks missed that. 

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Harry

And less engine/VL fan stress for the same takeoff weight.

Geoffi
Geoffi
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yet it doesnt seem to hinder the USMC mission envelope…

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

It does but the LHA’s are owned by the USN. They have to make the best of the situation.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

Hi Geoffi,

It probably does, but they ain’t going to shout about. Hence the USN’s interest and rapid progress in developing refueling UAV’s. If they get them to work then they will be able to support the USMC F-35B’s – assuming that either a carrier is close enough or the UAV is STOL capable.

Cheers CR

Charles
Charles
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

My understanding is the USMC see the F35B as providing relatively short-range support to their amphibious operations, so extended range offered by ramps is not so critical to their use of the aircraft (or less critical than the need for deck space)

Geoffi
Geoffi
1 month ago
Reply to  Charles

So this precludes that CAP is provided by a Nimitz or Ford floating nearby or alongside. OK. Our carriers need to operate alone on a sovereign mission.

Also I wouldnt be surprised if until AAR UAVs are available, some mission scenarios rely on KC-135s or KC-46s forward stationed..

Johan
Johan
1 month ago
Reply to  Geoffi

will say look at all the other navies that are going to use F35bs there are more ramps than not.

someone must have a better idea, yet its not American.

Peter S
Peter S
1 month ago

I have thought for a long time that if the operating costs of F35 b can be significantly reduced, the US might increase their overall carrier capability by building second tier STOVL carriers. The experience of the USMC flying from QE would help to make this a low risk option.

David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

I think the first step might be to put a ramp on an LHD to prove concept which it certainly would. The problem would be USN. They seem to feel it would undermine CVN’s which they to be fair rightly consider the most effective way to deliver carrier air. There is in all states even the US a lobby for a cheaper alternative to any complex and expensive weapon system. There is no comparison between a STOVL and a CVN, Everyone I think recognises the Nimitz/Ford classes greater flexibility. For the USN adapting existing LHD designs to have a ramp… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by David Steeper
geoff
geoff
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Good Morning David.Compare a QE Class with a conventional US carrier of similar size and list the pluses and minuses of each, all other things being equal. The QE class is much cheaper to construct and operate in deleting cats and traps and includes the added benefits of STOVL particularly with wider landing options in an emergency, and the greater flexibility of same when close to land. The US Carriers jets carry a bigger punch, and have longer range/payload options, but then again the F35B is leaps and bounds ahead of the Harrier in terms of payload,range, performance so the… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by geoff
David Steeper
David Steeper
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

Good morning Geoff. Wow your a morning person I could pass for an extra from the Walking Dead ! Waiting for coffee to kick in. Agree with everything you say except maybe drones. We’re prob going to need an arrestor wire system to broaden the range of drones we can use on QE. Your comparison of cost is spot on but that is one of the problems for the USN.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago
Reply to  geoff

HI Geoff,

I would also suggest availability is likely to be much better for QEC than for the CVN’s. The latter spend far longer in refit because of the extra safety checks demanded by the propulsion system. I read somewhere that it takes time for the kettle to sufficiently cool to allow all of the checks to be carried out – but that is digging around in the back of my memory, which is a bit murky these days..!

Cheers CR

Dern
Dern
1 month ago
Reply to  David Steeper

The USN won’t put a ramp on the LHD/LPH’s. They’re well aware of the advantages and disadvantages, and what they’d loose in rotary ability wouldn’t be offset by the gains for fixed wing.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter S

The USMC are intending to operate them from the same dozen or so ships that operate Harriers but they have a lack of ships. The two America class have been built to carry them (though requiring some post launch modifications) though arguments that by removing the landing docks rather than amphibious assault ships they are relegated to mini carriers. Existing ships have to be refitted to carry F-35 replacing their flight deck as the F-35 downdraft is hotter than the harrier and will melt the existing flight decks however this refurbishment program is well behind, the first one to be… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Hmme, but mini carriers that are about the same cost as a QEC with a fraction of the sortie rate? With a smaller crew and lower running costs and capable of a far bigger load out? Hence why the Orange One did muse that there might be things to learn from the QEC program? Maybe one of the less silly things he came out with? I’d agree there is no comparison between a QEC and a Ford/Nimitz (assuming the Ford ever works fully) but the QEC does have a place – particularly as USMC operates the F35B and QEC is… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
1 month ago

HI Supportive Bloke, I couldn’t agree more with regards to the QEC being the premiere F35B platform. If we get the cats and traps for refueling / AEW UAV’s (and perhaps one day loyal wingman UCAV’s) this will be a capability that really is in a league of its own. Since these ships have been commisioned I think we are seeing a growing sense of purpose and a welcome level of decisiveness from the MoD, at least as far as the RN (T31 / T45 upgrade / autonomous boats) and RAF (Tempest / UCAV) are concerned. Obviously, it is not… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

There clearly is a decent plan coming together.

Much helped by finally getting a grip on procuremnt.

I’d be very anxious is procurement went back to being job creation/retention schemes.

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

But the mini carriers are not primarily aircraft carriers, they are primarily amphibious assault ships designed to put people ashore either via landing craft or helicopter. Hence the Sortie Rate for F-35’s is secondary to the sortie rate for Helicopters.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Agreed

But QEC can sortie an awful lot of Helo’s from the stern end of the flight deck while the front can rapidly launch a lot F35B’s from the ramp.

You also have two massive lifts and the small munitions lift to move airframes from the hangar.

So as far as I can see both of those boxes are very well ticked?

Dern
Dern
1 month ago

The QE’s actually have fewer HLS than America Class LPH’s (6 vs 8). *edit* Then there are things like space for embarked troops, vehicle deck etc (after the first two America’s they all have Well decks as well). They’re just two different ships designed for two different roles

Last edited 1 month ago by Dern
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Dern

Oh, I agree they are different but there is nothing to stop them being complimentary?

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

Well, one photo shoot I am looking forward too is an 809 F35B with a US AV8B next to each other on QEC.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  David Barry

I’d be surprised if we do see an AV8-B on QEC as this would just start the old “why did we prematurely retire Harrier” conversation again. I don’t think it would be a good PR output from that point of view. As it potentially kicks off the “we have very few F35B: (for good reasons we have been over many times on here) we should have kept Harrier until F35B was at operational strength” conversations. Personally I think it was a massive mistake by people who didn’t understand the skills required to operate carriers of any kind and the costs… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago

I’d mislaid my 809 book and finally finished it yesterday, hence my comment.

Although, your point about regeneration and lost skills was raised at the end of the book!

Johan
Johan
1 month ago

Harrier is a 60s aircraft even in GR-9 Form, but as ex BAEs Dunsfold, Harrier fleet had the airframe hours cut. only UK Harriers with Airframe time are the old ground handling SHAr2s and 1 T. This was part of a pissing contest with UKGOvs and BAEs over another program called MRA4. cut it nose off

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 month ago
Reply to  Johan

I know the story and have a slightly different take on it.

The MRA4 certification was, in my view, really the issue post Haddon Cave.

Once the certification mechanism and constraints were set out BAE had little choice but to say it applied across the board.

The whole problem with H&S legislation is the reverse burden of proof. Anyone could easily pop up and say why is a dual standards being applied? Any aircraft modded after that poi t in time would have to follow the new procedure which killed the GR9 upgrade path.

Blame nutty H&S legislation for that.

Last edited 1 month ago by Supportive Bloke
OOA
OOA
1 month ago

Wonder which ship has better food?

David Barry
David Barry
1 month ago
Reply to  OOA

Well, only one of them has a bar…

Rob
Rob
1 month ago

Nice to see some good news after being bombarded with horror this week on Biden’s disastrous Afghan folly. Well done US and UK armed forces – we need more of this kind of transparency and shared leadership.

David Papworth
David Papworth
1 month ago

Nice to see our brothers and sisters getting along with each other just love American people