HMS Queen Elizabeth has sailed from her home port of Portsmouth to conduct training with UK F-35 Lightning jets in home waters.

The carrier also tweeted that the UK Carrier Strike Group is embedded & 617 Squadron are on the flight schedule for the first time tomorrow.

Cdre Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, said:

Bring on the next phase of Carrier Sea Training and another big step in generating the UK Carrier Strike Group.

The vessel was recently assessed in its ability to defend from air, surface and sub-surface attack as part of her operational sea training. This is all part of a journey to enable the carrier, her aircraft and her escorts to deploy operationally next year.

Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will deploy with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine and support vessels. Commodore Michael Utley is reported by Save The Royal Navy here as saying that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be escorted by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria.

The ship will also carry 24 F-35B jets, including US Marine Corps aircraft, in addition to a number of helicopters.

Prior to the deployment, it is understood that the Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group will go through a work-up trial off the west Hebrides range sometime in early 2021.

When asked about whether or not the UK has enough escorts to do this without impacting other commitment, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:

“The size and the scale of the escort depends on the deployments and the task that the carrier is involved in. If it is a NATO tasking in the north Atlantic, for example, you would expect an international contribution to those types of taskings, in the same way as we sometimes escort the French carrier or American carriers to make up that.

It is definitely our intention, though, that the carrier strike group will be able to be a wholly UK sovereign deployable group. Now, it is probably not necessary to do that every single time we do it, depending on the tasking, but we want to do that and test doing it. Once we have done that, depending on the deployment, of course, we will cut our cloth as required.”

It is understood that the 2021 deployment will see the Carrier Strike Group sail in the Mediterranean Sea, the Gulf and end up in the Pacific.

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geoff
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geoff

Anyone know when the next batch of F35’s will be delivered?

julian1
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julian1

3 more scheduled to be delivered in 2021 according to AFM

Steve R
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Steve R

Quite a sad state of affairs when we get 3 planes in a year!

julian1
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julian1

it’s all about getting just enough airframes in time to stand up the 2nd operational squadron – working to a long time plan

julian1
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julian1

sorry, I meant 3 more in 2020 – 2021 I think it may be 5 or thereabouts?

Meirion X
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Meirion X

Yes you right, 3 more this year!
See link above.

Meirion X
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Meirion X

I have found info that suggests 6 F-35Bs delivered in 2021.

http://www.pymes75.plus.com/military/jsf.htm

Longtime
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Longtime

Meirion, we could get 5 or 6 in 2021 depending how this year progresses, The USMC have Indicated that they would be willing to swap some slots with them if we wanted to accelerate our buy. Steve R, I know it seems crap but in the long run it means less early service tinkering, the rate of development on the software is incredible, there’s an interview on aircrew interviews from 1 of our pilots from the early conversion courses, he reckons between our 1st production aircraft to the 10th there was 2 major software improvements, 20+ minor changes and 5… Read more »

geoff
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geoff

Thanks for information Gents! Slow rate of acquisition but we all understand why.

Matt
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Matt

I’m sure I read somewhere that it will be a 12 and 12 split of UK and USMC F35s for the initial deployment. And then 24 in 2024. Can anyone confirm or deny if that’s the case?
Would be interested to know how many pilots we have qualified for our UK F35s too (not including test pilots).
Cheers
[email protected]

Longtime
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Longtime

Still the plan for USMC to come along. Guess would be around 40 pilots qualified but that’s just on how long the training program has existed not by any hard numbers.

Shaun
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Shaun

Just as a matter of interest, having been reading about the RN armoured carriers of ww2, does anyone know what if any armour is fitted to the current two? Is the deck armoured?

julian1
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julian1

if the threat is now AShM, isn’t the main threat to the hull and superstructures rather to the flight deck as per WW2 dive bombers?

Daveyb
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Daveyb

Probably during the design phase the main threats were believed to be torpedo and AShM. However, since she was in building you can now add anti-ship ballistic missiles that use a manoeuvrable re-entry vehicle. Due to the hypersonic speeds they probably don’t need a warhead to inflict damage. I could imagine it punching straight through the ship if it hit in the right place. Thankfully countries like Iran or N Korea would struggle to find the ship at sea. Russia and China would have to expend a lot of assets to find a task group with sufficient data for a… Read more »

Nicholas
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Nicholas

The 26s are not going to be equiped. We will have to rely on the subs, few as they are. The First Sea Lord said
‘For example, do you buy an additional weapon system which may be ‘sexier’ and make a more obvious political statement or fit a sophisticated electronic warfare system that maybe virtually invisible but can have much wider tactical effects?’
So the 26 will be able to find the enemies, but then what?

jakenbad
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jakenbad

Probably almost certainly be accompanied by nato or support from other countries as well, most of the time if there are any conflicts

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

… but then what? A Merlin releases a torpedo.

Phil
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Phil

Eh, the First Sea Lord didn’t say that, that’s a quote from this article on Save the Royal Navy about issues he may have to consider: https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/the-new-first-sea-lord-and-his-vision-for-the-royal-navys-future/.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Periscope shots of a carrier during an exercise are a bit of fun and serve to drive the point home regarding the detectability challenges associated with AIP subs. However, the threat is likely to be even greater that subs will launch much further out without even raising the periscope, given the capabilities of modern heavy torpedoes to find, identify and target, plus the high likelihood of the periscope being detected.

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Very well put Daveyb. a lot of people really do underestimate just how hard it is to find warships at sea, let alone get accurate firing solutions. The idea of launching anti ship missiles against modern warships from many hundreds of miles away is just fantasy. Aircraft Carriers are big, but the ocean is vast.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

“The idea of launching anti ship missiles against modern warships from many hundreds of miles away is just fantasy.” That is true today Robert, provided adversary air assets are held at distance as expected and thus unable to locate the CSG. But the BM threat may not be so easy to dismiss perhaps as early as 10+ years time. SpaceX are demonstrating the ability to launch many LEO satellites relatively rapidly. If Russia and/or China develop a similar capability, which we should assume they will, then a proliferation of many thousands of satellite sensors will be a serious threat to… Read more »

Daveyb
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Daveyb

Because of the expected proliferation of LEO satellites I foresee a number of countermeasures being developed. The most likely is an airborne laser much like the one used in Boeing YAL-1 converted 747. This used a chemical IR laser which was supposed to knock out ballistic missiles in the boost phase, The problem with it was partly due to the aircraft’s operating altitude of 45,000ft. At this height the atmosphere is still thick enough to cause a significant absorption which lowers the power of the laser, meaning the aircraft had to be much closer to the missile to have a… Read more »

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Interesting comments as usual DaveyB. To be sure there will be a range of attempts to counter anti-ship ballistic missiles and/or the systems used to target them. It seems there are at least two factors that are the USN primary concerns about large ships, and probably also concern other western navies including the RN. As you point out, the first is that maneuvering AShBM will have the energy to sink the largest warships, they bypass most of the traditional layered defense and are not trivial to kill, especially if you need a 100% success rate in doing so. The second… Read more »

Andy
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Andy

I really don’t understand why it’s so hard to find a huge carrier battle group at sea.

Satellites can measure wave heights in millimeters with lasers, SAR satellites cover every inch of the ocean, we can spot periscopes at who knows what distance.

A simple camera in space can spot them.

Nicholas
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Nicholas

Pop up anti-ship missiles wouldn’t need to damage the hull to neutralise the carrier. Pop up and straight down onto the deck to ruin it.

Glass Half Full
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Glass Half Full

Just as well the UK is flying F35B then. Much less sensitive to impaired deck, and not sensitive at all to impaired CATOBAR assets.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

That is a really good point. The fact our carriers could operate in a higher sea state is well know and i suppose the same characteristics would allow landing ( even vertical take off) with damage to the flight deck and or a level of listing.

julian1
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julian1

I wonder also if an F35b could land in an emergency on an auxiliary to refuel or if the carrier flight deck was temporarily unavailable. I know the hot downdraught could damage the deck and that they are heavy, but it could avoid a ditch at sea. you can hardly say that of a catobar equipped carrier.

Spyinthesky
Guest
Spyinthesky

Interesting debate, at a guess it could probably land in an emergency considering the cost of replacement and danger to the pilot as compared to damage to the deck but I would doubt a take off would be contemplated but either I guess would be dependent on exactly what damage might be expected or if temporary solutions might be feasible to facilitate it especially with new ships coming online. For surely someone might contemplate the requirement as a last resort solution.

Glass Half Full
Guest
Glass Half Full

Just looking at relative weights it seems a Chinook capable flight deck might take an F35B for landing, albeit probably close to empty on fuel and after dumping weapons, unless the flight deck is already engineered for greater dynamic loads. It might also be possible to launch with a reduced fuel and weapons load for an in extremis role.

BB85
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BB85

I think there was an article on ukdj detailing either the armour of the QE class or the T26 Frigates that was interesting. I’m not even sure if there is much similarity between the two in terms of armour design. And it provably focuses heavily around the magazines.
If the ships took direct hits from modern torpedoes or anti ship missiles the main focus is probably insuring the ship does not sink rather than armour.

Gunbuster
Guest
Gunbuster

The only armoured deck is on RFA Argus. To alter the roll characteristics for helo training something like a meter thick reinforced concrete slab was poured.
That it made the deck reinforced/armoured was a happy side effect.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Would that not create some nasty issues with corrosion and maintain.

Longtime
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Longtime

Sure I read that they just turned her old cargo doors over and started to pour.

Derek Bates
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Derek Bates

Has the third CIWS phalanx gun been fitted to HMS Queen Elizabeth yet. This must be done before she is fully operational.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

It’s quite a statement the UK is making, as the number of nations that could project that level of power across the globe is vanishingly small. I know many commentators like to make the point that it’s still not enough to taken on a peer nation in its own back yard….but actually no one does that, unless your unlucky and have a war with your regional neighbours or it’s some sort of world war scenario. Most peer on peer chest thumping/intimidation will happen around strategic points in the globe ( Middle East is the classic ) or in support of… Read more »

Robert Blay
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Robert Blay

Well said Jonathan. Excellent comment. 🤙

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Seconded.

Gareth
Guest
Gareth

Will be fun to watch the task force next year when it (presumably) calls at Gibraltar en route to the Indian Ocean….

Also rather hope that a few mcmvs would accompany the ships, at least through the Red Sea.

Andy
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Andy

I wonder if it will stop in Hong Kong too. I hope so.

Steve
Guest
Steve

If the US really does pull the f35s from the UK, the stupidly slow buy rate is going to look really obvious next year.

Clive Brown
Guest
Clive Brown

So sorry to butt in but is there any way that I could track HMS Queen Elizabeth as my Grandson is aboard on his first tour of duty

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

How? The US aircraft joining the QEC will be USMC B’s, no the USAF A’s at Lakenheath.

Steve
Guest
Steve

They are looking to pull f35 from the UK, they don’t need the B’s in the UK currently as the carriers are not fully operational.