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.”

66 COMMENTS

    • 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?

  1. 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?

  2. (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 …

      • 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.

        • 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?

          • 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 have to ask yourself why build something they have in spades? The USN is facing a shortfall both in escorts and SSNs something we can provide; now we are struggling to do that too and even equip the ones we have adequately. And then we have the other pillar of this edifice, F35b which was a poor choice. Harrier allowed us to exploit a small hull because of its VSTOL capabilitie, why do we need VSTOL on 70k toon carrier? And the argument against CTOL is bogus because if the budget is that finely drawn then we shouldn’t be undertaking the project. A sensible option would have be CTOL sized to coped with E-2 / FA18 and then buy 12 of the former and then go buy Rafale-M off the French. I would say flying E2 (or as I had better qualify a platform of similar size and purpose, manned or not) is probably more important than the jet. I am sure the through life cost of F35b to us will only be smaller than CTOL system because we only have a few F35b of our own. And we would could have probably done more to support USN aviation if we had carrier compatible with their fixed winged assets. Let us not forget the USN seems to be turning cold towards F35c and with drones already taking off from CVN decks you also have to ask if we have cut ourselves out of the future.

            Now none of this is to say we shouldn’t have purchased a replacement for the Invincible class. And I will accept, up to a point, the steel is cheap and fresh air even cheaper argument which isn’t as straightforward as it seems. And I think I have even mentioned Brown’s 60/40 systems/hull ratio here today. But we could have bought something smaller to support what we do instead of pretending we are a mini-superpower. The main two things the RN does is ASW and amphibious operations. Something the size of the Italian Cavour or Spanish Juan Carlos would have probably served us better. Everybody likes to that modern buzz word ‘modularity’ well there is no module in modern naval warfare better than the helicopter. Crowsnest flying from a deck at the centre of a task group would give us ample cover under SeaViper and SeaCeptor, and let us not forget under US and allied air power flying. Leveraging the Royal Marines would show the US, and this might sound brutal, that we are prepared to do all we can to support them at the sharp end. And we are now in an age where and men with rifles probably count for more than missiles and other wonder weapons. The RAF needs a second fleet of FJ and perhaps F35a would be better a choice; I am actually concerned that it might be the only version that gets made in numbers and a US looking more to the Pacific and fed up with Europe might cut B.

            The USN are really impressed with the Queen Elizabeth class. They are super ships. But perhaps they are too much for us. So yes if POTUS was to offer enough for us to buy 4 more T26, 5 more P8, and some other toys then yes I would buy them. Shame we can’t just order an extra Astute, but we can’t, as our SSN’s are what really should be the measure of naval capability.

            Is that OK?

          • (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 sort wreck sites. The older I get the less tolerant I become of bullies”

            1. I am as civil and courteous as people are to me. Maybe read the pieces to which I am responding. Gob off personally abusive crap at me and you will get both barrels back but I can say mostly my comments are on topic, complimentary and add what I believe to be factual and interesting information. I may not always be accurate or correct but whatever

            2. What ‘party line’? Care to explain this meaningless phrase?

            3. I think the MoD is wonderful? Check out my critique of how the MoD screwed up the Nimrod MRA4 ..Just yesterday! I despise too much Governmnt and especially the waste this creates.

            4. Now about ‘civilians pronouncing’ – I have never EVER said that civvies cannot participate so that is an utter lie. Or do you mean I, as a civilian, should not ‘pronounce’? Well l did 15 years in and still work with charities to help veterans. I also have the time and resources to study all I can about matters defence so that gives me an insight. But even had I not why not judge what is written rather than attack the writer?

            5. I find it amusing you were able to be ‘online’ before the Internet or do you mean the World Wide Web’ (two different things)? As someone who was a Chief Computer Operator responsible for the first ‘live’ Stockbroker and Building Society systems at Centrefile in the City and worked with Intel on the first email system I would be interested to hear how you did that.

            6. So you have seen ‘my sort’ before have you? Care to expound on that meaningless statement (your second). I have opinions. I state them as clearly as possible. I add humour even when in disagreement. Why would this ‘sort’ wreck sites?

            I am now 71 years old. Got more T Shirts than I should have, carry scars from events I would rather not have witnessed and been round too many blocks. My tolerance of abusive little twerps like you, Solesurvivor and ‘Bummer’ is very low as it detracts from the core issues and discussions and you will get short shrift from me. If you don’t like this response stop making generalised and meaningless arsewipe comments.

          • @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?

      • “(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

        • 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 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 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 bloody sarcastic smartarse all the time …

          • 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 complaining about you recently, you don’t go one week without arguing on here, perhaps you need to look closer to home when trying to establish why you’re in a constant battle on these pages.

          • (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 my commitment for the benefit of others on here. I will not respond to you or anyone being an arse OK? You will get a #FacePalm no matter what shit you put out. It worked the other day when you threw out a personally abusive barb about someone and no one bit. You must have been mightily disappointed. I intend to disappoint you more often….

          • 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 Chris, because the way you judge someone you have never met, throw out scandalous accusation of thuggery with absolutely no evidence, and then run away onto the next article (which you do frequently) is pathetic.

            The funniest thing is in all this, you attack three people at once in a comment calling them a name, and then try take the moral high ground trying to make out all you do is defend yourself.

            It is absolutely laughable.

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

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

            *facepalms*

    • 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.

    • 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.

        • 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”.

      • 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.

        • 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 PGM shells can you buy for the cost of an F35b, the pilot cost, crew cost, etc.? There must be a better solution than sticking a handful of very large 5th generation jets on a crowded deck. Harrier worked in that in role because it was small and cheap; even though it had abilities beyond mud moving which were leveraged both by USMC and FAA. If the Harrier had the (contemporary) capabilities back then as F35 does now it would have to have been a ‘VTOL Phantom’.

          • 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 to act as a forward sensor node, thus increasing ship based weapons range, it makes perfect sense for the Marines to operate F35’s.

            I think you made a few good points in your post above, in that ideally the QEC would be more compatible with the USN carriers. Adding the traps, even without the catapults, would have added some flexibility to aircraft choice as Boeing has said that the F-18 can operate from India’s STOBAR carrier. That being said, I think they will still be a great boost not only for the RN, but for our alliance with the U.K. As well.

          • 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 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…

    • 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.

  3. 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?

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

        • 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. 🙂

      • 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.

          • 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.

  4. 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.

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

    • 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

      • 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.

        • 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.

    • 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 the day before. The giveaway is in some of the seemingly insignificant comments made.
      Finally-can anyone give a definitive answer to the question-65 000 tonnes or 72 000 or atonnes-which is correct or are they ralking about different things?

        • (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 …

  6. 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 types of aircraft procured. The MoD has taken a big risk by procuring only one type of STOVL fixed wing aircraft, the F-35b, optimize for strike and ground attack roles.
    Why did not the MoD have the foresight to procure a specific STOVL ‘air defence/interceptor aircraft. This type of interceptor might be an advanced Sea Harrier, or a P1154 type of Harrier refined and modernized.
    I find it difficult to believe the F-35b can fulfil the air defence role of a fleet. Could it beat back waves of 4 gen fighters(like the Falklands war)? Is it the reason why the US Marines procured the F-35 for it’s deep strike and ECW role? US Marines have already got F18’s for the air defence role.
    Also the QE class need to be equipped with the V22, with having Crows-nest fitted to give greater AEW coverage.
    Also potentially the V22 could be used as a tanker to refuel other aircraft.

    A lot of the technology to equipped a new type of Sea Harrier has already been developed for the Typhoon aircraft.

    I look forward also to other common sense approaches to the QE class carrier debate.

    • 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.

      • 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 info. For instance it says…

        “About 500 test flights are expected to be conducted over a period of two months. There will be four test pilots: a Royal Navy commander, a squadron leader from the RAF, a civilian test pilot and a major from the US Marines.”

        So about 500 flights over about 60 days. With I suspect the first few days or even week probably being very cautious low-tempo stuff and possibly not every single one of those 60-ish days being flying days that probably means quite a decent tempo on some days which makes me very suspicious of another bit of the article where it implies that 2 specific US planes will be used and “The two F-35s will be handed back to the Americans before the Queen Elizabeth returns to the UK”. That sounds total BS to me. My assumption is that aircraft will be pulled from the joint orange-wired test pool as and when needed and depending on which particular aircraft are ready to fly on any particular day hence, over the course of the two months, they might even use pretty much every aircraft in the pool at least once. Maybe I’m wrong but at the tempo required for 500 flights over probably fewer than 60 actual flying days I don’t see two specific airframes being able handle that tempo or them wanting to focus so much load on two specific test aircraft.

  7. 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, we would not be able to do that with a conventional carrier and what she had deployed would be it.

    As for spending the money on frigates and other items support for a regional power, yes these are important but we are for better or worse a world power due to necessity and history. Beyond the influence in any future multi lateral conflict that the carriers will bring (NATO is actual flush with frigates and escorts, and an escort does not give you much influence at the top table) we have far flung areas of responcible from the Pacific to the antarctic and always have a risk that we may on our own become entangled in a military conflict far from home. For this we need to have a strong carrier capability with good logistic support and the ability to deploy meaningful forces worldwide, not just frigates and nuclear subs.

    Frankly 6 billion for two of what will be some of the most influential ships on the planet is pretty good in my book.

    • 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 given time anyway so the carrier running cost is pretty much fixed hence any reductions in per-sortie costs for operations that would otherwise need to have been from more distant land bases will be real savings that would not be realised were it not for the availability of the carriers.

    • 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 for certain missions. Plus they could also fly from the carriers to basic land based airstrips to be closer to action if needed.

      It gives us a very flexible force.

  8. @ 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 back to ASW now China appear to be making strides on their plumbing apprenticeship. And our two countries submarine forces work very much hand in glove. The new carriers are tied very closely to USN operational needs; the USN has even taken them into account with Burke numbers and their future deployments. As I said considering we do the other two activities in support adding a third activity supporting something that the USN does to such a degree it isn’t so much world class as the only one in class. And it isn’t a question of inter service rivalry as we don’t need carriers to justify the RAF getting a second FJ fleet as that is just prudent. Lastly we are neglecting another area where could support the USN as an ‘independent’ force and that is with RM. Yes QEC has been built with passageways to facilitate the movement of troops from below to flight deck and yes with that huge hangar so plenty of space for Jungly cabs. But what we truly need to leverage that capability is a nice big dock ship or three that can troop around after the carrier in a hybrid ARG-come-‘strike’ task group. But we can’t afford anything because QEC project has cost us too much. If the QEC go to war oddily they will probably do just that going back to your main and very valid point that the RN is basically a ‘supplier / facilitator’ for the USN/USMC. One of my problems with the whole venture is that we went into it with the customary ‘fitted for, but not with’ attitude instead of investing and building upon it. Pragmatic? Prudent? Or just shortsightedness? We are where we are.

    As for a ‘Falklands Op’ yes I agfee that the ability to land say a battle group or demi-brigade across the beach in a manoeuvre war like scenario is something we should be able to do. One of the blunt instruments the tactless naval professional uses to bashes the armchair admiral is take the word ‘Falklands’ quite literally and then brush aside concerns about the loss of this ability with remarks that Argentina won’t invade again because XYZ. But do we have enough escorts to take losses? Do we have enough personnel to crew the dock ships? Do we have enough RFA’s? Do we have enough merchantmen of the right types flying the Red Ensign to take up from trade? The RM seems to be now a focus for cuts to personnel, cuts that can be traced back to QEC. The problems and questions go way back with this one. My favourite being is why didn’t we as a nation invest in a follow to Harrier after its performance in 82? The French and Swedes can manage it. Or even perhaps, why weren’t the plans started for the follow on class to the Invincible? The situation we find ourselves in now is that with have carrier of the size that could easily take CTOL equipment, but didn’t because of cost, built around a jet that though wonderful is as I explained somewhere above a class or two beyond Harrier. That is to say Harrier was a cheap and cheerful platform that has been exploited amazingly beyond those humble origins, but we are replacing Harrier with, to use a contemporary of the ‘plane, with something in the Phantom class. Heck the MoD didn’t even look to move to AV8x standard. Perhaps if we had settled for something like the Juan Carlos or the Trieste and rolled up ‘aviation support’ and ‘dock ship’ into one roll and kept the number of Bays up too match (and perhaps built bigger docks for example Karel Doorman size) then yes we could look to do a ‘Falklands Op’. But we wouldn’t have enough fixed wing assets, but would it prudent to launch an op like that with one carrier even if that carrier was as big as QEC? And finally I have to ask if there is little chance of us refighting the Falklands who exactly will be fighting without being on the USN side and with the US providing bases in theatre for RAF assets? And if we are to fight in a major war I would suggest that perhaps sending troops across the beach would be more valuable as a statement of support than supplying another very large flightdeck that has cost us escorts. We might not fight another Falklands but I can see many scenarios where a RN escort has to ‘fight’ in a less than war situation, but we will have few escorts in the future because of QEC. And as I keep saying I don’t see T45 as an escort, it is a high value unit now around which (task) groups will be formed and something to be protected and escorted; I think of T45 more as a defensive ‘carrier’ with little one use aircraft. When T26 comes on line we will be down to 8 escorts plus whatever comes out of the T31 programme which doesn’t fill me with confidence.

    And don’t start me on submarines and the size of the A-boat buy.

    So we are were we are as a supplier of aviation support to the USN for F35b and helicopters (big).

      • 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.

  9. 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.

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