HMS Queen Elizabeth is sailing to conduct Carrier Qualifications as well as Landing Signal Officer qualifications with 207 Squadron, the UK’s F-35 Lightning training squadron.
The vessel will begin to leave Portsmouth Harbour around 8:30am on Tuesday.
Whilst one storm has passed, there is another brewing.
Get strapped back in as the time is nearing for the #UKF35 and us to work together in UK waters for the first time.@OC207Sqn will be joining to carry out training in rather colder and harsher waters than the Florida coast! pic.twitter.com/Elfi2UfyoR
— HMS Queen Elizabeth (@HMSQNLZ) January 20, 2020
It hasn’t been revealed where in UK waters the latest round of fixed wing flights will take place, but we’ll do our best to keep you updated!
Next year, HMS Queen Elizabeth will deploy operationally with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine and support vessels.
Commodore Michael Utley, Commander United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group, is reported by Save The Royal Navy here as saying that HMS Queen Elizabeth will be escorted by two Type 45 destroyers, two Type 23 frigates, a nuclear submarine, a Tide-class tanker and RFA Fort Victoria. The ship will also carry 24 F-35B jets, including US Marine Corps aircraft, in addition to a number of helicopters.
Prior to the deployment, it is understood that the Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group will go through a work-up trial off the west Hebrides range sometime in early 2021.
When asked about whether or not the UK has enough escorts to do this without impacting other commitment, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
“The size and the scale of the escort depends on the deployments and the task that the carrier is involved in. If it is a NATO tasking in the north Atlantic, for example, you would expect an international contribution to those types of taskings, in the same way as we sometimes escort the French carrier or American carriers to make up that.
It is definitely our intention, though, that the carrier strike group will be able to be a wholly UK sovereign deployable group. Now, it is probably not necessary to do that every single time we do it, depending on the tasking, but we want to do that and test doing it. Once we have done that, depending on the deployment, of course, we will cut our cloth as required.”