HMS Queen Elizabeth has entered Naval Station Norfolk to resupply before she begins flight trials with F-35 jets.

The facility is a United States Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia. It supports American naval forces operating in the Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and the Indian Ocean.

The F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force (ITF) is nearing a milestone as they prepare to embark two F-35Bs on board aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. They will be conducting First of Class Flight Trials (Fixed Wing), or FOCFT (FW).

Nearly 200 ITF personnel—active duty US and British personnel military, DoD civilians as well as contractors from British and American companies—will join the ship’s 1,500-person crew in making history when the two jets land on the British carrier.

The event will be the first time an F-35 has ever landed on a non-American vessel and it helps bring an end to the eight-year hiatus since a British aircraft carrier last operated a fast jet from its deck.

During testing, the team plans to perform a variety of flight manoeuvres and deck operations to develop the F-35B operating envelope on Queen Elizabeth class carriers. They will evaluate jet performance on over 200 test points during different weather and sea conditions as well as the aircraft’s integration with the ship.

30 COMMENTS

    • (Chris H) pacman – her two ‘islands’ shorten her length visually but she is only 150 feet shorter and that is in the bow (Ramp vs CATs). From above her flight deck is actually wider for longer.

      So as you say she looks good in that company and yes ‘Let the Good Times Roll’

      • Yes. I also wonder if the Queen Elizabeths were built with lengthening in mind, in a midlife or twenty-year in service refit as they are built in modular blocks etc. I know sponson issues along with stability propulsion would have to be addressed. Their hull depth and width to length ratios are very large.

        • Also the bow looks to be 10 to 15′ shorter than it could be and no conventional landing overhang for smoother flow too (15 to 18′?)

          • (Chris H) Marc – nice rant but way off the mark. The bow was designed for a ramp with parking space adjacent. It is how it is for a function not designed to look good.

          • It does look very different from the Russian/Chinese ski ramps, but I think I recall reading that there is a practical reason for the flat front on the ramp. Something about causing an updraft for launching aircraft.

          • I should have said that the bow is shaped to produce updraft (or upwash in F1, but that is for downforce), and shorter because the ramp is heavy (in the hundreds of tons) and could make the bow want to dip more so than wanted.

        • Something I have argued for. The potential is there to lengthen the vessel by 50m. By cutting in aft of the forward bridge and installing a duplicate of the central lift section. This would give three lifts and space for a third turbine for the extra poser requirements. As the carriers will not undergo a midlife refit for 10-15 years the sections could be built slowly over time and be waiting when they go in for there three year refit. Possibly at that point EM cats could be fitted to the ski jump and a three wire trap system fitted. This would give the possibility of aircraft such as the MQ25 Stingray as well as conventional carrier aircraft. This aircraft would give the possibility of in flight refueling, early warning and recon as well as anti radar suppression. What would happen with this type of fit is that RN aircraft could have a heavier take off loading due to the combined effects of the ski-jump and EM cat. The cost for the two carriers new equipment should be about 2 billion but over a ten year period surely the government could find that money.
          Does anyone know if the QE will be bring back some more F35s after the testing?
          Apart from that good luck QE, its good to see the RN being able to play again with the big boys.

          • Ron – interesting ideas,but if the projected costs of fitting Cats and Traps during building are anything to go by id say to put an extension in as well it would work out more expensive that the Carrier cost to build in the first place.

          • Paul T. The extension would be performed by the masters of extending ships which is Cammel Laird. They have cut and extended ships in months and would be the main contractors to do this. It looks so obvious by the design many years ago, to do and even more so now. The techniques in 15 to 25 years time will be even more perfected too.

          • I like to call it to copy, cut and paste. A copy would be one of the parallel midship blocks as you hint at with third lift (no reason why it could not be 250′ as in that time, Britain will be a far better and better off Country than today in this eu empire muck and with the increase in defence budget which I see that the delusion is living with such a low defence budget for Country like ours). Em catapults could well be fitted to a new upper section of hull with the original piece removed, rather than fitted too if that make more sense to do from an engineering (along with new material) and financial point of view. I don’t know how this affects the deck traverses in those areas, but I’m sure that was known when the carrier was configured for this option. The block extension could well help increase the life of the ship (most fatigue happens around that area) as well as enhance the capability. All very interesting.

      • Wow I see what you mean. Always thought it look small but when you cover the tower up from view ishe does look a lot bigger

        • The flat bow in front of the ramp was designed to increase upward winddraft in front of the ramp to assist the F35’s take off with a full load.

          • Yes and helped lessen the bow to dip. A proper bow length would not help uplift and on top of that 120+ tons of ramp would not be desirable. The proper bow length became the ramp in a way, for a conve3ntional take off carrier.

  1. I hope they get some really nice pictures for us all.
    How extensively are the Navy allowing this to be covered by the media as obviously some stuff they won’t want to make public but the interest is definitely there?
    Will we be able to see any video?

  2. Chris H,the Russians can do it there is no reason why we couldn’t the shape or non shape of that bow ruins the whole ship for me as for form over function that is just an excuse for lazy or cheap design.

    • (Chris H) Marc – On a military asset it is absolutely ALL about function over form. That Russian style full width ramp is also used on the new Aussie Navy ships built in Spain but then they aren’t ever going to use it for fixed wing aircraft so for the RAN its a loss of usable deck length. As for the Russians (and Chinese) they have (like the Aussies) given up usable deck length for their own reasons nice though it may look. As I said the design of the bow and ramp was created specifically to provide parking for 5 F-35s on the Starboard side as well as continual launching of aircraft off the ramp. Function over form and there is an image here:

      https://ukdefencejournal.org.uk/kind-aircraft-many-will-hms-queen-elizabeth-carry/

      • The yank carriers look purposeful and aggressive which is an important part of power projection .Look at the Hood in the twenties and thirties and the Vanguard in the fifties the designers of the our carrier missed a trick there imo.

        • I think the QEs look intimidating with their bulk. Ther Ford looks goofy with the array on the island like that. Like, Homer Simpson. Nothing to do with function though. If it looks right, it is right works for many things, but sometimes the looks are right when they deliver or people get used to them or understand what they are for and purpose. Hopefully not to prove in war.

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