Members of Flying Control and flight deck handlers from HMS Queen Elizabeth crossed the Atlantic to see live F-35B jets in action.

Their carrier is due to conduct flying trials with the state-of-the-art aircraft in the late summer/early autumn off the eastern seaboard of the USA. Preparations for that moment – nearly a decade after a Royal Navy warship last hosted a fast jet – have been taking place for months, even years, on both sides of the ocean say the Royal Navy.

about 20 members of the HMS Queen Elizabeth team witnessed F-35B test aircraft BF-02 and BF-04 taxi, perform two vertical landings apiece, and conduct a couple short takeoffs. The ground reverberated as each aircraft approached the tarmac for its vertical landings led by the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force team, hovering for several seconds prior to descending.

The carrier’s Wings – Commander Air Cdr James Blackmore – said the few days at Pax proved invaluable for many of his team.

“It’s the first time they’ve ever seen the jet or been up and close to it as it’s performing its flight manoeuvres, so they got to feel the environment of what it’s like, the sort of noise, the heat, the sound and the pressure of the aircraft, so that when it comes to deck for the first time, it’s not a surprise.”

He flew the last Harrier to take off from HMS Ark Royal at the end of 2010 before both the jump jet and carrier passed into history.

Blackmore called the F-35B “a step change for the UK in how we’re going to conduct business” adding:

“The fact that’s it’s F-35 is pivotal, because you’re in the fifth-generation game now with aircraft, which brings stealth, sensor fusion, advanced weapons and the ability to project aviation and power ashore at your choosing,” he said

11 COMMENTS

    • It was always going to be so.
      The very oldest prototypes are still being used in testing and development.

      Even 4 of the UK Lightnings will remain in the USA permanently

      • is there no way to convert them to full operational spec, and do these count in the 138 order commitment?

      • (Chris H) – Joe – I have to wonder why we need 4 test aircraft permanently in the USA given the number of US test aircraft and the way both teams integrate so well. I would have thought that two of the test aircraft, given they would never fly in combat, would be ideal platforms for ‘Buddy Up’ tankers on the carriers. They would only need the basic software and no weapon avionics just tanks in the bomb bay and under the wings.

        • Interesting idea. Are the hardpoints in the internal weapons bay wet though? If not then it might be non-trivial getting them coupled to the fuel system. There is no guarantee that there is a structurally acceptable routing path for them and if one needs to be created then I suspect that you can’t just drill holes through bulkheads and struts in a plane, you possibly have to redo all the structural (finite element analysis) calculations to make sure all the force vectors that were being transmitted before are still being transmitted OK after the changes. Admittedly for the role you are considering it might not be necessary to set the input parameters on the simulations as aggressively, e.g. lower g force limits, but I still suspect that getting tankage into the internal bays might be a more expensive exercise than you think if it’s not already in the design.

    • What utter wastage and poor value to US tax payer (me nowadays.) Possibly justifies the UK Government’s glacial pace of F35 procurement – though the issue appears to be more with the ‘A’ version. Similar in some ways to Typhoon tranche 1 but on a much more exaggerated and wider scale. The complexities of developing such a complex aircraft and political expediency of seemingly getting it into service. yuk!

  1. “Amen Brotha”!

    The USAF claims they are going to fix their portion of the fleet. I’ll believe it when I see a Razorback Hawg flying by on afterburner sporting a set of delta wings with canards upfront…

    Cheers!

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