HMS Prince of Wales, the Royal Navy’s second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier, appears to have embarked her first F-35 jet.
Please note that the above image is just a stock photo of HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, we don’t yet have any official imagery we can use.
Imagery captured by the @RfaNostalgia Twitter account show HMS Prince of Wales off the coast of southern England with an Apache helicopter and F-35B jet on her deck.
NavyLookout tweeted the following.
.@HMSPWLS south of Plymouth breakwater this morning.
She appears to have embarked her first F-35.
— Navy Lookout (@NavyLookout) June 8, 2021
HMS Prince of Wales was due to conduct these trials off the US coast last year but issues (more about that below) meant she couldn’t.
656 Squadron and their Apache attack helicopters also recently joined HMS Prince of Wales for her sea trials.
This is the first time the ship has worked with Apache helicopters.
The carrier also recently tested her three Phalanx guns as part of efforts to make the vessel operational.
According to a Royal Navy news release:
“The Portsmouth-based warship has spent much of her first fortnight back at sea in the relatively sheltered waters of Lyme Bay conducting aviation trials with the RAF and Commando Helicopter Force. The ship’s company has changed substantially since she last sailed in the spring of 2020 – and since her flight deck last welcomed helicopters, so it’s been a mix of brushing up on old skills and new experiences for a good number of sailors.
Those on the upper deck were treated to the impressive sight of a unique RAF Chinook, proudly sporting a Union Jack tail to celebrate its 40th anniversary in UK service, touching down. The Boeing-built helicopter entered service with the air force in November 1980 and has seen action in every major conflict involving the nation’s armed forces since.”
After the much-publicised first encounter at sea with her big sister HMS Queen Elizabeth and her Carrier Strike Group and a brief stopover in portsmouth, sea trials have now resumed.
The aircraft carrier was previously alongside in Portsmouth for just over one year. In May 2020, HMS Prince of Wales experienced flooding which the Royal Navy described (at the time) as minor but this was followed by more significant flooding in October 2020 which caused damage to her electrical cabling. The now repaired damage was so bad that the ship was unable to sail to America for fixed-wing aircraft trials.
The Royal Navy say that the carrier will shortly head to the south west coast for an intensive period of trials and training, establishing her lethality and ability to sustain operations.