The deployment ‘WESTLANT 19’, will see HMS Queen Elizabeth and her crew conduct vital deck and warfare trials with British F-35 jets.
It is understood that 617 Squadron will embark on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time for this deployment.
The jets will conduct Operational Tests, alongside 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron, onboard the carrier in the USA during the WESTLANT 19 deployment, proving their capability at sea.
— HMS Queen Elizabeth (@HMSQNLZ) August 30, 2019
The MoD say that this is vital step on the path to the first Carrier Strike Deployment planned for 2021.
“Our aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth will return to the East Coast of the United States to conduct Operational Trials with our Lightning Force, taking this 5th generation capability to the next level as they prove their ability to operate from the sea.
For decades to come, this exciting new combination of aircraft carriers and F35B Lightnings will provide a potent, globally deployable carrier strike capability, a powerful conventional deterrent and the centrepiece of our country’s expeditionary forces.”
Recently, the 18th F-35B for the UK was delivered. Numbers right now are exactly where they’re expected to be and inline with the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review.
2 F-35B in LRIP run 3, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 4, 1 F-35B in LRIP run 7, 4 F-35B in LRIP run 8, 6 F-35B in LRIP run 9, 3 F-35B in LRIP run 10, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 11, 2 F-35B in LRIP run 12, 6 F-35B in LRIP run 13, 8 F-35B in LRIP run 14 and 7 F-35B in LRIP run 15. This brings us to 42 in 2023. The next run brings us to the total of the first batch of aircraft, 48.