Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to sail to the United States at 6pm on Saturday for a series of trials with F-35 jets.

This is the culmination of years of training, tests and trials. Last year, British personnel embarked on the USS America week for at-sea developmental testing phase 3 (DT3), the last trial that paves the way for the US Marine Corps to deploy the jet operationally on amphibious assault ships.

BAE Systems test pilot Pete Wilson said:

“This will not be a DT phase. Testing on the Queen Elizabeth will be like DTs 1, 2 and 3 combined. We don’t need to use fully instrumented aircraft; we already understand most of the loads on the aircraft systems, as we have tested that during earlier tests.”

The aircraft that will be landing on the supercarrier will belong to the Joint Operational Test team. The team’s mission is to build confidence in the aircraft towards helping clear the F-35 to make the legally mandated advance from Low Rate Initial Production to Full Rate Production. The RAF’s No 17 (Reserve) Test and Evaluation Squadron comprises ten percent of the test program in the JOTT we understand.

Most if not all of the aircraft to touch down will be American, this isn’t some scandalous outrage (just watch how some papers report this, though) but rather it’s due to the fact that most of the F-35Bs in Joint Operational Test team are American.

After speaking to one of the pilots in the test programme, we understand that the UK only has three (BK1, 2 & 4) test jets that are “orange wired” to take data for post-flight analysis, the rest being operational aircraft. Therefore, it is highly likely that the jets to go on HMS Queen Elizabeth later this year will be “mostly, if not entirely, American but flown by UK pilots”.

We were told by one of the UK pilots currently flying the jet that the reason for this is that the JOT team dictate the availability of test jets out of a pool. Our contact said:

“It would be nothing more than symbolic to make UK jets available for the trials and that comes at a significant effort since all of them are based at Edwards AFB in California, not on the East Coast where the ship trial is due to take place. 

Therefore, the most obvious and cheaper choice is to use the F-35B test jets based at Pax River, which are US ones. British test pilots like Andy Edgell, Nath Gray, will obviously fly them but there’ll be US pilots too because that’s how Joint Test works.”

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Geoffrey Roach
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Geoffrey Roach

BRILLIANT!

maurice10
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maurice10

I agree, the culmination of thousands of hours of hard work. Once the planes are operational the Royal Navy can go forward into a bright future. Sadly, all of us who reacted so vehemently at the early retirement of the Invincible Class, and leaving the UK so pitifully lacking a sea strike capability, have been silenced. Unfortunately, this will only strengthen the voices of the irrational thinking MOD/Treasury?

Ryan Morrison
Guest
Ryan Morrison

About time, hoping we get lots of live vids of the event
Will they be doing traditional VSTOL landings only or are they going to also to the SRVL landings?

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) NavyLookout found this interesting piece:

https://t.co/yBxS2BKpsk

Please note it is for US audiences so a lot of ‘made in USA’ and no mention of what we build into F-35 but no worse for that. I think its a great piece – all positive, quite knowledgeable, respectful and enthusiastic …

Chris
Guest
Chris

Still better than how much of the UK’s tabloid press reports defence matters ?. #defencereportinghallofshame.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Bravo.

alsutton5@gmail.com
Guest

… deployed on training a long way from base without it’s own auto canons… why?

James
Guest
James

1800 eh?

*checks time of last train out of Portsmouth Harbour*

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

Hopefully the USN likes QEC that much they buy the pair…………

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) #FacePalm

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

Just about sums you up. If I were a moderator here you would be gone. It is the likes of you who wreck sites like this.

Steve M
Guest
Steve M

I find a lot of Chris H’s replies well thought out, informed and mostly on topic. Including the one above. I’ll bite too as I’m feeling sporty, why should we sell them/the USN buy them?

David Taylor
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David Taylor

Shame he can’t be civil then really isn’t it? I find he often trumpets the party line, the MoD (N) is wonderful and civilians shouldn’t make pronouncements on topics of which they know little. I have been online a long time, well before the internet, and I have seen his sort wreck sites. The older I get the less tolerant I become of bullies. For a second tier power the carriers have cost too much. In a world where if you argue for certain capabilities you are met with the counter argument, ‘Well we don’t need that because USN…’ you… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) David Taylor – well thank your for the character assassination attempt – its a shame it was inaccurate. Shame also you felt the need to go off on one for what was a light hearted one word comment in disagreement. I take it you don’t take contradiction well. “Shame he can’t be civil then really isn’t it? I find he often trumpets the party line, the MoD (N) is wonderful and civilians shouldn’t make pronouncements on topics of which they know little. I have been online a long time, well before the internet, and I have seen his… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

@David Taylor…

“I have been online a long time, well before the internet”

Pmsl! So you were online before it was possible to go online?

Can I borrow your DeLorean please?

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

“(Chris H) #FacePalm”

“My tolerance of abusive little twerps like you, Solesurvivor and ‘Bummer’”

“If you don’t like this response stop making generalised and meaningless arsewipe comments.”

Irony

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

That’s the advantage to sites like this of system like Disqus. It allows you to switch off the annoying.

Ignore him. Like all bullies and trolls he craves the attention.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) David Taylor – coming from the one who is all over this site like a rash recently and the one dishing the abuse, name calling and demands for me to be banned that comment is bloody rich. And do tell me how one ‘bullies’ someone in a Thread … Have a tinfoil hat on me …

#Jesus H Christ

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Yes Solesurvivor twerps like you who quote me selectively and forget to add the context. You were so abusive to me even you felt the need to apologise two weeks ago. Which I accepted as was right. Sadly you seem to have slipped back into your old ways. The context here is I was responding to two personally abusive comments from David Taylor. All caused by ONE word put out in an obviously lighthearted way. THAT is the context you forgot to mention So there is no irony just factual discussion. Try and discuss and not be a… Read more »

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

So abusive?? What on Earth are you talking about. I said have you been on the sherry again after a comment you made. You then threw a hissy fit saying you were offended because you don’t drink. I then said sorry if I offended you you a few days later. Stop making stuff up. I asked you to “leave it” a few days ago because I didn’t want to get into an argument and you said “no I won’t leave it” and proceeded to rant at me again. Have you noticed that about 4 or 5 different people have been… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Solesurvivor – 4 or 5? Care to name them? there are just 3 – You frequently, Mr Taylor (once here) and BB85 (once). Bummer is pretty cutting to most people. And again you fail to mention why I have indeed ‘crossed swords’ with you 3. Its because you all (unlike the vast majority of others on here) deliberately make it personal and criticise people (not just me you had a right personal go with Lee1 two days ago) rather than discuss the topic. You have just done it twice here in a matter of hours. Anyway here is… Read more »

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

You’re a confused man Chris, you make absolutely no sense at all. You’re having a go at people for doing something you do all the time. You brought my name into an argument you were having with someone (surprise surprise) and called me a twerp, not once but twice. And you have the audacity to complain about people being abusive. What do you mean again I fail to mention? Where was i supposed to mention it in the first place? Do you actually read the previous posts or just wing it and make stuff up. And please, please, please do… Read more »

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) #FacePalm

SoleSurvivor
Guest
SoleSurvivor

Why you using a hashtag we’re not on twitter.

In online conversation you put asterisks either side to demonstrate an action.

*facepalms*

Tom
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Tom

The considered opinion of the QEC by the USN is big ship with a small air group . That is what a several USN told a congressional committee hearing.
They think the UK has repeated the error of the WW2 uk carrier design in having a big ship but a insufficient air group.
Time will tell.

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Why David?

You obviously don’t mean the design in saying “the pair”

You don’t approve of the RN having a power projection asset like a carrier?

I would say that the USN carriers are far superior any way in numbers carried and firepower so why would they want our ships?

That’s not me saying our carriers are poor far from it, but they suit us not a super power with immense resources.

David Taylor
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David Taylor

They are super ships. Hobbled by a silly decision not to go CTOL. But they have cost us too much. See above.

Mark Latchford
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Mark Latchford

VSTOL is much, much simpler and cheaper than CTOL David. Do you have any idea how much kit is involved under the deck of a carrier with catapults and arrester wires? It’s a lot, and very expensive. In addition to that, it would require more crew to operate and maintain it, not to mention how much easier it is to train pilots in VSTOL operations. Overall CTOL is preferable, but simply isn’t realistic from a cost point of view. So in my view it wasn’t a “silly decision”.

David E Flandry
Guest
David E Flandry

Despite the US resources, there are some in the US who argue for a few smaller CVs , since a ship can only be in one place at a time, due to some law of physics or something. I think the USN would only get one more CV that way.

David Taylor
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David Taylor

Yes I have seen some of those schemes from using LHA as ‘sea control’ ships to even basing ‘jump jets’ on Spurance class ships. 🙂 One way QEC would be useful in war time would be as the fixed wing aviation support ship to a collection of ARGs to free LHx hangar and deck space for helicopters. Though I do question whether the USMC does need fixed wing aircraft flying off LHx. If they go ashore somewhere really hot it will be under the cover of CBG. We live in an age of long range precision artillery; how many 5in… Read more »

Jared
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Jared

The benefits of the F35B to the Marine Corps is that they can call in their own air support without having to rely on US Navy air assets and any conflicts of interest that may come with that. The Marine Expeditionary Unit usually deploys in an Amphibious Ready Group consisting of a Wasp or America Class LHA, San Antonio Class LPD, and a Whitney Island Class LSD. By bringing their own fast jets onboard a Wasp or America class, the Marines are a total force in their own covering air, ground and sea. When you factor in the F35’s ability… Read more »

Geoffrey Roach
Guest
Geoffrey Roach

I don’t have a problem with your comments David as they are thought out for someone with your beliefs but I think you are arguing that the Royal Navy should become a support facility for the U S N . What happens if we get another Falklands type conflict in “peacetime” or the need to maintain a North Atlantic capability in the future with the U S preoccupied with the Pacific.

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) David E Flandry – Whiloe we have disagreed before I am happy to say you are correct there Sir. The debate has been gathering momentum because of the way we were able to deliver two 5th Gen capable carriers for some $10 Bn while the US Navy is struggling to deliver one for over $16 Bn (and counting).

Here is a US article from 2014 which makes exactly your point:

https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/why-the-us-navy-should-build-smaller-aircraft-carriers-1600899834

There is another which I will post separately…

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) Here is the other article:

https://foxtrotalpha.jalopnik.com/americas-carrier-gap-crisis-highlights-a-need-for-sma-1740644946

You make the point well about ‘being in one place’ and I believe any Admiral going to war would rather have two slightly less capable carriers than one very capable carrier. Battle attrition, freedom to battle plan, higher sortie rates, more total aircraft deployed and more options for air attack / defence. And for less money ….

This is why the QE is making such an impact in the USA and why they are most certainly not for sale.

Mr Bell
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Mr Bell

Idiot, and leave the UK without essentially military hardware necessary to protect the UK, her allies and our national interests.
Go post somewhere else if you have daft views like that.

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

That last post was intended as a reply to David Taylor’s stupid comment on selling the QE class to the US navy.

Ian
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Ian

Love it when a plan comes together, can’t wait to see it all happen.

Amazing effort from a lot of dedicated professional people – well done all!

Anyone know how many F-35Bs are doing the trials?

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

It would be nice to think the BBC are already working with MoD(N) to do some coverage when it has its first deployment.

Paul Bestwick
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Paul Bestwick

As I understand it the folks who did the “Britains Largest Warship” are onboard for Westlant18

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

I have Sailor on DVD. It would be nice to see a 21st remake. 🙂

As long as it doesn’t turn out like that awful HMS Brilliant series from the 90s. It was oddly popular on some messdecks back then. Then again wasn’t there a Channel 5 programme about the Ark Royal that was cringeworthy too,

I will just watch with the sound off. 🙂

Julian
Guest
Julian

They’ve already filmed and broadcast the three-parter on the build and early trials including good and measured (unlike some newspapers!) coverage of the quickly-resolved prop issue. I’d be amazed if a film crew hasn’t stayed on board to film some follow-up episodes. Personally I’m hoping for another three-parter to come.

David Taylor
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David Taylor

I am hoping it won’t be too long before we the public get a chance to visit her.

Chris
Guest
Chris

It has already been confirmed that Chris Terill (the filmmaker behind ‘Britain’s biggest warship’) will be on board for the deployment. In my mind that hopefully means we should see a new series in the new year and then hopefully a third series for her first operational deployment.

John H
Guest
John H

Be aware there is to be a match at Fratton Park on Saturday afternoon and so traffic in and out of Portsmouth will be heavy at times. To avoid that I’ll be watching from the Gosport side.

Mark Latchford
Guest
Mark Latchford

Cool!

Colin Brooks
Guest
Colin Brooks

I hope The QE gets a suitable escort as she transits to the US West coast since the whole world now knows about it?

Steve
Guest
Steve

Whilst it doesn’t need an escort for the trip, the optics would be bad if it doesn’t have one. The stories will be focused on lack of available escorts rather than the positives of the carrier taking a step towards being useful

Chris
Guest
Chris

Colin – I believe its confirmed that she will be accompanied by HMS Monmouth and RFA Tidespring will accompany her across the Atlantic. I would also count on an Astute being close by but that would never be publically announced. While it would be nice for a T45 to go to its not really necessary as the only conceivable threats to her are Russian subs spying on her not air threats.

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

Chris, never discount the asymmetric threat from a state sponsored extremist groups, admittedly the Atlantic is not really high risk of this, but low risk is not no risk and putting a hole in QE would be the propaganda hit of the decade.

But clearly they are taking force protection seriously. Monmouth and a handful of merlins is plenty for a low risk deployment.

geoff
Guest
geoff

Forgive me if I sound “doff” but can someone clarify a few things-are the trials to be conducted on the East coast or the West Coast or both. If she is going West would obviously transit via Panama. If she has an Astute as part of the escort group would the sub also go via Panama or would there be another to meet her on the West exit? Regarding press coverage-it has improved marginally but read the piece in the Guardian. You can tell the “Defence Correspondent” doesn’t have much of a feel for matters Naval and information is researched… Read more »

geoff
Guest
geoff

spellos-65 000 tonnes or 72 000 tonnes….talking about.
An Edit facility would be nice!

Chris
Guest
Chris

(Chris H) geoff – Its just the East Coast this trip. Norfolk Virginia to disembark RMs and their kit and embark more test equipment for flight trials off the Eastern Seaboard, then New York to ‘fly the flag’ and then back to Norfolk to embark the RMs after their local exercises with USMC. She even has 700 tons of hurricane relief stores embarked in case Mounts Bay needs extra support in the Hurricane season.

Hope this helps …

Frank62
Guest
Frank62

A long awaited step towards restoring carrier strike & fleet air defence capability. Best wishes to all involved.

MeirionX
Guest
MeirionX

I do agree with the consensus that it would be too expensive to convert QE class carrier to cats & traps at this point in time. Also taking into account the issue of launching and landing aircraft on CTOL carrier types in rough seas does increase risks. As a STOVL carrier, QE class would have a potential to be a multi-role carrier, examples are: ASW platform, assault carrier, ‘blue water’ patrol carrier, war zone air dominance platform, disaster relief(LPH) platform. But the QE class will not be able to fulfil some of the potential roles above, due to the limited… Read more »

James
Guest
James

Daily mail has her priced at 3million, bargain can we have another 20 of them please?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6072013/Royal-Navys-new-3m-aircraft-carrier-Big-Lizzie-prepares-set-sail-US.html

Mr Bell
Guest
Mr Bell

That is another great example of the poor editing and actual quality of defence stories published by the Daily Mail. I would happily be available to attend the newspaper once a week to help them get their military and defence related stories accurately portrayed.
I would only charge £1000 a week which is small change for the daily mail editing team.

Julian
Guest
Julian

It’s a pretty tragic state of affairs when there is almost certainly no way that the DM cares enough about getting this stuff right to be willing to pay you even one week’s worth of consultancy but on the other hand, if you had some inside info on some footballer’s latest affair, you’d probably get 50 times that amount for the story. What a sad shallow little world these tabloids inhabit. Prompted by Geoff I’ve just been reading a Guardian article (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/aug/18/hms-queen-elizabeth-aircraft-carrier-heads-to-us-to-carry-first-aircraft). He was right, there are some very odd things in there although, if correct, also some interesting extra… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

You’re hired!

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Both of you in fact!

Jonathan
Guest
Jonathan

In regards to the carriers my personal view a decision to go STOVL ( or should we call it STOSL) was a blinder. In the end for a nation without the pure mass of the US trying to keep pilots carrier qualified in any other configuration would have been a nightmare, it’s always a stress and problem for the French. Apparently it will take almost no time to qualify to land on the Elizabeth. What this means is we can go from a peace time footing of 12 cabs up to the full number of deployable F35s in no time,… Read more »

Julian
Guest
Julian

Also worth remembering that it almost certainly isn’t all sunk cost (a bad phrase to use when discussing ships!). Over the life of the vessels it is very likely that they will reduce costs on various operations by being able to provide a launch point closer to a target than say Akrotiri thus reducing airframe hours and fuel consumption, not needing to involve Voyagers not to mention the less easily quantified benefit of reducing pilot fatigue (less time already in cockpit) when they are over their targets. We have the carriers now and one will be at sea at any… Read more »

Lee1
Guest
Lee1

I would have like to see both but yes the F35B is probably a better purchase as although it does not have as much range they can run far more sorties with far less strain on the aircraft. It would have been nice to have CATs so that French and US aircraft could launch from our carriers though. However the F35B has more landing options if needed. It could for instance land on most of our ships in an emergency and it is possible that we could coat a few more decks so it could be taken along on Albion… Read more »

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

@ Geoff R said “I don’t have a problem with your comments David as they are thought out for someone with your beliefs but I think you are arguing that the Royal Navy should become a support facility for the U S N . ” In a way the RN has been just that really since the 70s or if not America then NATO; though those two terms are practically interchangeable. The Invincibles’ role was to sit at the centre of an ASW group to screen US CBG. Today is more about providing ‘escorts’ though we are seeing a shift… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Guest
Daniele Mandelli

Thought provoking post. Thanks.

David Taylor
Guest
David Taylor

What makes the US a naval power is the number of Burkes, SSN’s, and MPA it can deploy not how many CBG’s and ARG’s there at sea. There is a difference. A lot goes on at sea that the public don’t see. There is a subtle dimension to admiralty than seems to lost on some, well many.

rec
Guest
rec

Shades of HMS Hood, great for flag waving, but keep away from combat with tier one opponents.

Shades of 1930s, great aircraft carriers, RAF control of naval aviation, not enough naval aircraft.