Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to sail to the United States any day now for a series of trials with F-35 jets.

The four-month WESTLANT 18 deployment will see the supercarrier sail to the eastern coast of the United States to begin trials that will pave the way for the UK to operationally deploy fighter jets at sea for the first time in years.

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.

The reason that most if not all of the aircraft to touch down will be American isn’t some scandalous outrage (just watch how some papers report this, though) but rather 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.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to sail any day this week.

103 COMMENTS

  1. Whoah!!! HMS Queen Elizabeth to finally start using her flight deck for fast jets for the first time. Fantastic!!!

      • Come on it even explains it fully in the above article all our F35B on U.K. Soil are operational aircraft so how would it be possible for us to us test aircraft we don’t have in the country the JOINT testing team are based in the US. Read the article

  2. Also to note those 3 orange wired airframes will never leave the US in their current state.

    Looking forward to seeing her with fixed wing aviation, and the inevitable papers/twitter rants and former service members chin waggling lol

    • (Chris H) mike – Given those 3 will have been bought at the highest price we are talking some £0.5 Bn worth of kit here. I am not convinced we need that resource in the USA and we could deploy them to Marham (or even Boscombe Down) to develop the airframe further. It is a very expensive exercise basing them in the States and I wonder what the Nett Benefit is …

      • The benefit of basing the three orange wired F35 in the US is massive Chris!

        It saves significant amount of time and money operating those aircraft in a common international pool close to the manufacturer and the international integration centre.

        Moving those airframes to the UK and Boscombe would slow down our weapons integration program and raise costs overall.

        The Americans are in effect paying for part of our release to full service program, the cost of basing a few test pilots and their families State side is a bargain!

  3. (Chris H) This was flagged up (excuse the pun) on the ‘Navy Lookout’ Twitter feed saying this was the last weekend home for the crew. But nevertheless this is a momentous time and well done everyone involved. QE is due to be in New York in November for a formal visit so reaction will be interesting.

    I noted this comment in the article:
    ““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”

    Well when you are forking out £ Bns of UK taxpayer’s money bringing state of the art equipment into use symbolism is massively important. It is very easy to get bad press (Leaks, no aircraft etc) and very hard to generate positive press so not having British owned F-35s land on a British warship is a massive failure IMHO. I don’t care if there is some sleight of hand and RAF roundels are stuck on USMC aircraft as the test results will be the same. But if not ONE F-35 is British its just a massive own goal and stupid as its so avoidable.

    Whatever the costs of flying our 3 aircraft across the USA it is peanuts compared to the cost of the whole carrier programme and the value to the UK in international prestige.

    Our Yank friend Elliott gave us an example just 2 days ago when he accused us of not being capable and needing USMC support. THAT bloody hurt because a) its a lie and b) it plays so easily in the media. But he made the point well.

    • Yep agree totally, the public impression and views are all important, it’s something the MOD and services have forgoten, if You want politicians to fork out billions of taxpayers money you have to have public support, the best way to do this is by the impression it’s worth it and national pride. Not using the 3 UK aircraft makes perfect beurocratic and fiscal sense but it’s the wrong decision.

    • There will always be super nationalist bigots like Elliot it’s his reason for living no doubt, plying the dreamlike Make America Great Again mantra because is so scared of the fact it ain’t gonna happen unless he can devalue in his limited mind the value of others. Thankfully for every ‘septic’ of his ilk there are many others with a grasp on reality both there and amongst our own people, so really is it worth pandering to his ignorance when it won’t change the truth or realities or even perceptions of the overwhelming thinking majority that matter. People like him will always find a new target to express his one eyed fears and prejudice as no doubt we will find very soon.

      • I don’t know whether to be amused at your incorrect perception of my reason for being or your assumption I am a bigot without knowing anything about me, my life or my family. Jack*** I would have granted you as it would be true. However being a bigot? No.
        “You do not agree with me you must be a bigot.” – Argument is the mark of a lack of ability to present an argument or present analysis.

        • (Chris H) – Elliott Old Son we do not have to know you as a person because we judge you by the words you write. Just as I am so judged. I never knew Shakespeare but God I admire the man’s writing.

          You just actually proved spyinthesky’s point wonderfully. But I doubt you have the nous to understand why.

          You are like so many Yanks on the t’internet. You cannot stand any criticism of your country and see every discussion as a dick waving contest where you have to win. Most of your comments are put downs of the person who, in your myopic view, has had the temerity to challenge ‘the American way’ or to slag off with misrepresentation (as I exampled above) and lies the UK and its military.

          Thankfully we also see on here (no names but we all know who they are) how the majority of decent and knowledgeable Americans (in my view having worked there) behave and treat other people. However unlike them you Sir come across as described above as an ignorant bigot. As judged by your words.

          • Thank YOU for proving my point. You just outright confirmed my observation. “Say absolutely everything I agree with or you are not just a bigot but a ignorant bigot.”
            Your use of the word “decent” American. What’s next oh that’s “he is one of the good ones.” Look in a damn mirror before you call someone a bigot.
            Your criticizing of someone for being unable to take criticism of their country is hilarious coming from you. Look back over your own comments and you will see a never ending litany of your attacking anything that is critical of Britain followed by massive justifications for, Brexit, RAF, RN, the Conservative Party, and Theresa May. Pot calling the kettle black.
            Again jackass I am, it was helpful for several of my careers. Bigot I am not.

    • But the 9 British F35s we have at Marham are not test aircraft, they are operational, they do not have the correct test equipment installed for such trials.

      • The other side of this is that yes it would be nice to habe a uk test force bringing things online with only 3 uk a/c that would take far longer than it will with 6 8 9 a/c all working at the same time. As has been said it’s a joint test programme. There are other considerations in this tgat go towards the F35 programme as a whole not just us.

      • Ive read the article as best as I can – does the quote from the test pilot suggest the Aircraft landing on the QE don’t actually have to be ‘orange wired test’ ones ?

      • 617 Squadron at RAF Marham are a bit busy building themselves up to gaining IOC with the new F35B. It would be more important to get them fully operational than take time out to test systems on the carrier, particularly when there are jets in the U.S for just such a purpose. British or American aircraft, it doesn’t matter really. It’ll be a British pilot that will touch down first (I hope). Don’t think the Americans complained when our people joined in the USS Wasp trials

    • Just adding that those airframes wont be to any standard near frontline, especially with a lot of measurement equipment, along with any future upgrades and lacking a lot of frontline equipment. By contract, security and the needs of the evaluation program they simply wont leave the continental US until they are converted to frontline standard (and by then they’ll be the hardest worked airframes in our fleet).

      Thats not to say they wont possibly be part of the aircraft that’ll land on her later this year, but as mentioned that’ll be assessed as to the needs of the program.

      Its part of being part of the test and development team (the only team member with the same clearance as the US itself…).

        • Now come on ladies play nice ! I’ve taken a fair amount of criticism myself on these pages but I always remember a quote. ‘The only way to ensure no-one ever thinks you’re an idiot is to never say anything’

          • (Chris H) David Steeper – that is a great truism and why I prove mysel the village idiot frequently – But please please forgive me as I can’t resist referring to Elliott by quoting Oscar Wilde who said:

            “It is far better to let people think you are an idiot than put pen to paper and prove it”

        • Most of the calories are in the butter, the beautiful thing about plain popcorn is the truly astronomical amount you can eat without over doing the calories.

    • Chris H. Its not the cost of flying the jets, its the disruption to the entire f35 program. Those jet have be already planned into continue other testing, some may well be only wired for certain tests. Pax river is where all carrier test is done, the jet there have done the ski jump trials at Pax River.

      I 100% guarantee this is not as simple as flying the jets across the US.

      • (Chris H) expat – I never once said let alone believe any of this is ‘simple’. My point was whatever the cost (in disruption, fuel, man hours, airframe hours, maintenance etc etc) it is worth it for the symbolism it will present to the world. You only ever get to make a first impression once. And if the RN / MoD cannot see that then we are in deeper crap than I thought.

        As for your point about these 3 aircraft being planned for other tests and so are not available well this has been planned for over 3 years. And no one thought to ‘plan’ their movements to fit in these crucial tests? After all they are test aircraft.

    • So you would prefer Britain to convert 3 of its own aircraft to “orange wire” test aircraft and take them permanently out of operation to turn them into test planes, rather then use the “test pool” the US already has coded as test aircraft?

  4. Any thoughts on the escort group will be?
    Ok she isn’t sailing into action but she will be heading into international waters without her primary weapon, the F35B in place.

    • HMS Defender perhaps? Along with a couple of the most recently refurbished T23s – HMS Kent and? Also an Astute, a Tide, and a Fort…

      Cheers!

      • It was supposed to be HMS Montrose but I visited her recently and according to some of her crew they have been bumped in favour of HMS Somerset.

        • Is Montrose is a GP frigate where Somerset is ASW? If so I could see awareness of Russian subs is needed crossing the Atlantic.

    • And who exactly is going to have a pop at it as it sails across the Atlantic? This isn’t a story out of a Tom Clancy novel.

      • I’m sure there will be an escort of some description, risks are there even if they are not a risk of 5×5 =25 (at war with Russia will get torpedoed on a regular basis) . The Russians would happily get all the intel they could if left alone to play with the Elizabeth ( risk score 5 x3 =15) I’m sure they would also take a couple of great shots from a periscope and splash it all over RT just to show “how weak the RN is in the face of mother Russia” (risk 5 X 3 =15)

        You also never know if a state sponsored terror group/band of nutters is going to try and drive a boat load of nasty into you, unlikely but it’s happened before and will happen again, let’s be honest taking a chunk out of the UKs lovely new carrier would be one hell of victory for certain groups we are at defacto war with ( risk 2 x 5 = 10).

        That’s 3 good risks just there that someone will have thought about how to mitigate, sure there are more.

        Also we are going to have to get use to the RN escorting this national asset around the worlds occeans, best start as soon as she leaves home waters just incase.

        • Jonathan -it didnt take long for the RN to gain the Acoustic signature of the Moskva when it put to sea – what are the odds that the Russian Navy have not already managed to have a sneaky look at the QE during last years sea trials ?

          • the propellers on the QE are a relatively basic fixed pitch design – as she runs on electrical motors you don’t need a controllable pitch system to set your speed – you can do that from the electric motor with a variable speed control – in effect you can have more or less power for a given shaft speed. a submarine can really only hear cavaitation or tip signature. besides she will have an astute sat on her rear quarter everywhere she goes – a Russian SSN won’t even get close without being detected. The Russians are not interested in a QE carrier anyway – they are too busy trying to get a signature on an Astute propulsor….

        • I would say that there is a high probability of the QE running aground , it seems to be the navy preferred method on a shakedown cruise with new vessels .

          But it is nice to see Nellie the white elephant getting to play with the dodo the flightless bird and pretending to be a valid carrier when everyone knows she is the world’s largest and most exspensive helicopter carriers ever built.
          But as the wonderful brown nosing Lord West said the image of a carrier was more important than its capabilities and the reduction in the surface fleet a price worth paying to have this image of a big ship with planes .
          It is a not important that it lacks punch but the image is all .
          The totem of New Labour the image is everything.

  5. I hope we’ll get more than short notice of a crack-of-dawn departure. I’ve yet to see this ship enter or exit port; would be nice to go down to the coast to see her off on her long trip.

    • She’s not going into theatre, though, is she? Phalanx, decoy launchers, etc., are theatre entry standard fit. Not going over stateside for trials. Unless those trials are for decoys and Phalanx. So I doubt time would have been allocated to ship these systems. But we shall see….

      • Is it really not necessary to fit guns to our ships unless ‘in theatre’. Unbelievably weak thinking.
        HMS Queen Elizabeth is a commissioned WARship.

  6. Hi folks hope all are well and what great news!!
    Hopefully the MOD will be onto the UK press making a clear point of how proud the nation should be, and ensuring the importance of how the QE is representing the nation’s interest and protection around the world. About time the press are kicked into patriotic theame for once rather than negative infactual rubbish.
    Good luck to QE and all the best who Will serve on her!

    • Yeah but the press will write what it wants. Usually the more scandalous the better. My daughter is a normal, intelligent Cambridge graduate. Decided to be a journalist. Did a one year Master in journalism at the leading City University. Mother and I were flabagasted when she was trained to always look for the sensational side of a story and the “gotcha” element if possible. Thankfully she’s in trade journalism and doesn’t apply what she learned

  7. Personally, I’m not bothered what flags on the side of the F35b’s deployed.

    It’s a multi national effort and this is just another tick on the paper.

    They could have the rainbow gay flag on them for all I care! I just want to see F35’s on the deck and get a step closer to full carrier capability again!

    Happy days!

    • The five A400M prototypes all carried the insignia of all the participating nations. Luftwaffe, RAF, French, Spanish, Belgian And Turkish Air Forces. I seem to remember some of the prototypes of the F-16 also carried flags from all customer nations. Couldn’t the T & E F-35s do the same?

      • Anyone else remember the Tri Partite Training Establishment at RAF Cottesmore. UK, German and Italian Tornado Aircraft all based at the same base.

        • Similar to the Tripartite-evaluation Squadron for the Harrier prototypes which used a roundel split into thirds representing the UK, US and West Germany. Obviously far too many F-35 partner nations for that to look any good but the idea is there.

  8. We may be one of the smallest Navies in the world but we are still the best so do what we are good at showing the rest of the how its done

  9. My guess is one of the three UK orange wired F35 will be released from Edwards to Symbolically make the first landing then once that Tabloid paper driven dull formality is done the USMC orange wired aircraft will do the bulk of the work.

    Personally I prefer the idea that a mix of RAF, FAA and USMC test pilots do the bulk of the work sharing practice and experience!

    • That’s my hunch too re the first one, either that (one of the UK ones) or a US one temporarily commandeered into the UK fleet and given RAF roundels for the first landing. Once that is done I wouldn’t be surprised if the tempo of landings and take-offs, together with possibly extended post-flight turnaround times to service and check not only the planes themselves but also all the onboard test/monitoring equipment (e.g. to make sure nothing has lost calibration), might well mean that it simply isn’t possible to maintain the required testing timetable were only the 3 UK test aircraft to be used.

  10. wonder why they went to the expensence of flying over our f-35’s? – should have just waited a few weeks and loaded them on the carrier for the return trip

    • They are currrently being used to work up to Land based IOC (Initial Operating Capability) which in essence is ‘writing the book’ on procedures, operations and limitations on peacetime and wartime flight… evrything from groundcrew and engineers, to in flight operations to the dropping of ordinance ect.
      Most of the groundwork for this was done in the US but this will be in essence by ‘our’ own rules and procedures.

      Once done, the greenlight will be given to initial carrier trials of our own in our own waters.

    • An interesting question. Looking at the whole commission/test/workup process though it does seem very well planned to me so I suspect someone in the planning team thought exactly the same thing, probably years ago, and looked at the possibility. I bet there is a compelling reason for not doing what you suggest as opposed to “oh, we never thought of that”. Perhaps it is as simple as there being no way to juggle schedules by 6 months to make the timings work and keeping the now UK-based F-35Bs in the USA for another 6 months, or however long it would have been before they could have hitched a ride back with QE, would have been too disruptive to the land-based IOC workup to keep things within the required project plan deadlines. It’s also not entirely negative having done the transatlantic flights, it did provide the opportunity for some very good testing of long range refueling procedures and logistics for long-distance F-35B missions and gave the pilots real-life experience in such a mission (minus the actual strike into enemy territory at the destination of course!).

      From what I’ve seen there seem to have been some very smart and capable people behind the planning on this QEC/F-35B project (meddling politicians not included in my praise). I’m very happy with everything I’m seeing on this even including walking the fine line between building up F-35B numbers vs maximising value for money by not getting stung by too many higher-cost purchases from early LRIPs and subsequent update costs to get early planes to the latest specs. Once we are at a fairly mature LRIP stage and certainly when F-35 is out of LRIP and into full production I do hope HMG finds the funds/cash flow to accelerate the purchases somewhat but for now I think that we are treading a wise path.

    • There’s no rush. She’s working on/ahead of schedule so why should the Navy risk damage to the ship/crew injury or death just by rushing through trials for a good photo op.

      • What! its a bloody aircraft carrier it was supposedly designed and built to land F35s 9 of which are in this country why couldn’t one of those pop down to Portsmouth and land on it?are they afraid the paint on the deck is going to fly off(lbtw looking at the state of the paint on top of the superstructures i would be) just plain ridiculous verging on farcical.

  11. OT but concerning the F35 as well…

    https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/08/13/the_raafs_future_fighter_force_113717.html

    Is it just me, or does anyone else think the RAAF should buy a few squadrons of retiring (and fully upgraded B1s with 75% of airframe life left) at fire sale prices I’m sure, to replace those F111s? Yes – the ejector seat problem has cropped up again but that can / is being fixed.

    For Oz, you’d think this would be a match made by the Wizard…

    Cheers!

    • I would support the purchase of a squadron for ourselves personally but it’s not going to happen. All other big powers still see the need for them and would allow us to hit harder if required.

    • Helions- would I be right in saying that the article you provided advocates reighning in future purchases of F35 in favour of more FA18F (gen 4 – 4.5) aircraft due to load carrying capability ? Also with Boeing’s proposed F15x variant has the penny dropped and will orders worldwide for the F35 be dramatically reduced in favour of more potential ‘bomb trucks’ ?

      • Hi Paul,
        yes and no – It is my opinion that the timeframe in which the F35 can be considered a “silver bullet” effective strike and fighter aircraft is rapidly closing due to technology accelerating advances in both aircraft design and air defenses. Instead of 2-3 decades of frontline use, i suspect that the current iterations of the F35 will see no more than a decade and a half as the primary strike platform for the countries buying them. Not because it’s not an effective platform, it’s just being overcome by the rapid march of tech development .

        Case in point- look at the frontline aircraft that the major combatants had at the beginning of WWII and look at what was being flown in frontline combat at the end of the war just 6 years later. The need to meet the threat drove development of these aircraft that were so far ahead of most of those early war aircraft that they cannot even be classed in the same category. Think Gloster Gladiator v the Meteor…

        If there had been no break in the Cold War, imagine what would be flying now. Since it appears we are inevitably headed for a resumption of an even more dangerous period of major power competition and brinksmanship, the development of advanced weapon systems and combat aircraft is being surged to meet the oncoming future threat. Hence the early obsolescence of much of our military kit is inevitable.

        As a result, instead of the F35 being fielded in a unipolar world with few systems able to engage it, it is now being introduced into a vastly different and much more dangerous threat environment which will only continue to worsen. Hence the need to quickly develop new Gen 6 aircraft to meet the future threats.

        Since these aircraft appear to be on schedule for introduction in the early 2030s, I make my case that the western militaries flying the F35 realize that they will have have to procure replacements for the F35 far sooner than they anticipated and that it doesn’t make sence to “go all in” on the aircraft as originally intended.

        If you can get 80% percent of the capability in Gen 4.5 platforms such as F15X and F18Ds and F’s at less than half the cost of a full F35 fleet then it makes sense to cut back on F35s, purchase proven and effective upgraded platforms and then change the mix to a high / low Gen 6 and Gen 5 combination in the early 2030s.

        I think that this is where we are probably headed IMHO.

        Cheers!

  12. I can only say good luck to the crew of QE. It will be the first time in almost forty years that the RN will be testing for large scale carrier operations. It will be the first time in history that a twin superstructure configuration has been tested, and probably the first time that a fully automated magazine handling system would be tested. SO these are many firsts not just for the RN but naval operators as a whole.
    I agree with the comments that she probably will have an escort group whilst crossing the Atlantic,and possibly for some time State side as she could undergo task group training and RAS training, all good experience for a new ship and new design. I would also expect that there would be a combined task force of US and RN ships to test the capability of RN/US naval procedures. The RN has escorted US carriers but the US has never escorted one of ours, so it would be a good time to iron out any differences.
    As for the ship being equipped with its CIWS and decoys, I don’t think it would be, but then again it would be a good idea if they were only because we do not know if the CIWS will change the airflow over the deck. So now would be a good idea to find out.
    As for Phalanx can you bolt on to the frame two quad packs of either Star Streak or Sea Ceptors to them for additional defence capabilities? I know that Star Streak needs an additional laser targeting system whilst Sea Ceptor works of the ARTISAN radar.
    Is something going to go wrong, sure its a new design effectively a prototype but just watch the media if there is an issue or god forbid an accident.

    • A missile defence system definately won’t be installed on the near future due to cost reasons, the added risk of foreign object damage and the fact that if the escorts have some of the finest missiles available then why does QE need them for point defence if she already has CIWS.

      • If QE is operating in a F9 gale I doubt if F35.s will be flying. Simple reason why a carrier needs her own self defence missiles and ATT’s.

    • Ron – I might be wrong but aren’t the Phalanx and the 30mm on platforms jutting out just below deck level hence no issue for airflow? That location, if I’m right, presumably also protects them from hot exhaust gas which is probably a big reason why they were placed just below the deck lin,. I read a while back that the F-35B heat issues didn’t only need the thermal coating, there were also some design issues that required very careful location of deck equipment to make sure nothing was in the wash area for the F-35B landing spots.

      I do agree that it would be nice to see Phalanx & 30mm fitted before she sails to the USA. If nothing else there is a long transit with lots of open ocean to do live firing tests into. That would seem a good use of time to slot in firsts test then.

        • I don’t understand the comment, or rather am unsure what conclusions you are drawing. Are you saying that there will be no live firing tests as part of the QEC commissioning or that Phalanx will never be fitted on QEC at all because of these funding issues? Surely not the later but are you saying that for cost reasons they will never do any live fire testing?

          • I have probably said to much as it is but but take it from me the MOD is royally screwing the taxpayers of this country.

    • Ron – been having a look,there is a SeaRAM system that uses the Phalanx mount,if needed these would be an easy fit iwould have thought.

  13. Marc we can afford to equip our armed forces correctly. HMG choose not too.
    Instead we give £18 billion a year away in foreign aid. We have huge wastage in all sectors of government and public services.
    Too many managers, quangos and consultants/ free loaders. I know as served the country for 22 years continuous public service in armed forces then NHS. Not effective enough project management hence escalating costs and delays.
    Carrier strike is within our grasp. We just need to invest in enough F35Bs (a further confirmed order of 3 more batches of 24 each is needed)12-15 more Merlins and enough warships and subs. 2-4 more astutes or 4-6 new BMT designed AIP conventional subs. 10 type 31, 8 type 26. Give the type 45s strike length mk41 vls. A further 6-8 more Poseidon P8s. Hey presto back to a reasonable force level and carrier strike delivered.
    Total price for all that new or additional kit…less than 1 years foreign aid budget (projected to be £18 billion this year) but spread over the next 8 years.

      • David although you said this as a bit of humor maybe what you do not realise is that the regulations and laws governing press gangs are actually still legal today.
        I found this out when I was writing a presentation on life below decks in the victorian period.
        I wonder if the RN knows it is still an active law?

  14. (Chris H) Just had a thought (I know I know) – we still have 3 (soon to be 4) new F-35s in addition to the 3 test aircraft at Edwards in the USA. What odds these 3 / 4 will be embarked on to QE after all the certification work is done for when she sails to NY and then home?

  15. Great! Love it when a plan comes together. With Tide class the carrier task force is becoming reality. Looking forward to the photoshoot of QE a 45 and a 23 sailing for the US. Are any of the ASW 23’s equipped with Sea Ceptor?

    • Paul – as far as I can find HM Ships Argyll,Montrose,Westminster and shortly Kent are equipped with Sea Ceptor,you would have thought that one of those would form part of the Escort group but in reality that may not be the case,we will find out for sure shortly.

  16. Reading is fundamental… I am always amazed that people comment without reading the article, or if they did, read then their comprehension needs work well above the 2nd grade level.

    • Jerome – think of them more along the lines of a reasonable capability for a reasonable cost – in Royal Navy terms they are Supercarriers !.

    • Lol elizabeth is not a wanabe carrier, just uses a different paradigm to us carriers, cats and traps was just going to be a nightmare for the UK to keep up the number of carrier qualified pilots(it kills the French). With the F35B we can carrier qualify just about ever F35B pilot avaliable within a couple of weeks. That will be very potent in a few years when we have the numbers of F35Bs avalaible, because we could go from an air wing of 12 to packed to the gunwales in weeks. Give it a decade (as long as we don’t go down the F35A rout) in extremis we would ( with luck on both carriers in the right part of refit cycles) but triple figures in the air………

    • There will be nothing “wanabe” about the QE when fully equipped. It will have more airpower than some entire nations, will be able to cruise the world’s oceans, and give Russia and China something extra to worry about. Its very presence in an area will inhibit any attack on UK interests or those of its allies.

  17. Reference David Stephen’s post, if Somerset has indeed been chosen as Type 23 escort in preference to Montrose it suggetss that ASW and towed sonar are deemed more important than defence against air attack.
    In any event if we see a 45 in the escort that is more than enough AAW capability for prowling Bears and probably Backfires.

  18. My God! Stop arguing with each other – we are Defence Allies, we aren’t trying to outdo each other! We all want the same thing – an Aircraft that does its job. We are the only Level One partner with Lockheed Martin and we share development costs which include us being responsible for providing a percentage of the Development Aircraft. Rondols mean nothing when it comes to testing and evaluation, it cuts costs and harmonises both our Air Arms meaning that in the Future, US aircraft will integrate seamlessly with UK forces and Vice Versa!

    I look forward to both our Nation’s working closer together in the future and stepping up close cooperation on new projects on land, at sea and in the Air.

  19. I do agree with the consensus that it would be too expensive to convert the QE class carrier to cats & traps at this point in time. And also taking in to account the issues of launching and landing aircraft on a carrier in rough seas using cats & traps.
    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 the potential roles above, due to the limited types of aircraft procured.
    Why did not the MOD have the foresight to procure a proper STOVL ‘air defence/interceptor aircraft. This type of interceptor might be a 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 a Falklands War)? Is it the reason why the RAF wanted to procured F-35 is for it’s deep strike and ECW role?
    Also the QE class will need to be equipped with the V22, with having Crows-nest fitted.
    The V22 could be used as a tanker to refuel other aircraft.
    I am sure a lot of the new technology to equipped a new type of Sea Harrier has been developed for the Typhoon aircraft.

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

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