F-35B Lightning jets from the Italian carrier Cavour have landed, refuelled, and relaunched from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in the Mediterranean following months in the Indo-Pacific region as part of her global deployment. As she heads west back to the UK, the ship has continued her busy programme of working with allied nations and partners, say the Royal Navy.

The Royal Navy say that this is the third nation that has landed jets on the carrier.

“On completion of the refuelling, HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH launched an Italian Navy F-35, Italian Air Force F-35, USMC F-35 and finally an F-35B from the UK 617 squadron. The jets then operated in the skies above the two carriers developing their interoperability and mutual understanding of procedures.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is the deployed flagship for Carrier Strike Group 21(CSG21). CSG21 will see the ship along with the Strike Group work with over 40 countries from around the world. The Strike Group will operate and exercise with other Countries Navies and Air Forces during the 7-month deployment.”

Italy is the only other NATO partner aside from the US and UK to operate that variant. The flights by the Italians mean HMS Queen Elizabeth has now hosted onboard jets from three different countries since leaving home in May, with the Italians the first European NATO partner to land on the UK flight deck.

“The fact that US, Italian and UK F-35Bs are able to fly to and from one another’s decks offers tactical agility and strategic advantage to NATO”, Royal Navy Commodore Steve Moorhouse, Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group, was quoted as saying.

“Today’s activity is a telling demonstration of the ability of the UK’s flagship to work seamlessly with other nations; Italy is the third nation to land an F-35B on to the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth and the seventh military operating F-35 aircraft that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group has exercised with on CSG21.”

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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
2 days ago

Accoglienza!

Jay R
Jay R
2 days ago

Who next for F35B carriers? Japan? South Korea? Spain?

Julian
Julian
2 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Might Australia ever change its policy on the Canberra class? As I understood the situation when I last looked (confession – my “understanding” comes from the Wikipedia article on the Canberra class) the Canberras retained the ski jump from the parent Juan Carlos design because it would have added too much cost/compexity/risk to remove it but the current RAN policy is that F-35B is not on the shopping list and hence will not operate from the Canberras.

James Fennell
James Fennell
2 days ago
Reply to  Julian

They will need some modification to operate F-35B – strengthened heat resistent decks, landing systems, weapons handling and also all of the support infrastucture down below. That will take space allocated for amphibious equipment, troops and helicopters. Its not a simple equation.

Last edited 2 days ago by James Fennell
Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
1 day ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Also the F35 is a lot bigger than the Harrier so it would not have a significant usable number of jets carried. So other than as an up front provider of protection for marines or as a lily pad it doesn’t have the oomph to work as a solo carrier. Given the distances RAN needs to cover, lily pad is not that much use. Unless, that is, you like doing a lot of AAR to get F35B to the lily pad! Frankly I think they are best off left as they are as rather odd looking helicopter carriers / LHDs… Read more »

Adrian
Adrian
1 day ago

AFAIK the Canberra class are useful for disaster relief and amphibious operations, but I would have thought that a single F35 capable mini-carrier (maybe Izumo?) is far more inline with Australia’s force structure – as Australia doesn’t really seem to have the equipment (or numerous amphibiously trained battalions) for heavy-hitting amphibious assaults.

Aus army doesn’t seem configured for big-unit frontline warfare, although some recent purchases may indicate a pivot there.

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 day ago
Reply to  Adrian

It looks like Aus are doing what we we should be doing with their force structure being a mix of heavy and rapid response through the Abrams and Lynx/Redback mix along with Boxer. How difficult is it really to choose a tracked IFV to go alongside Challenger?

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 day ago
Reply to  Julian

The Canberra class would require extensive modifications to accomodate a fixed airwing. Especially very compkex sensitive powerful jets like the F35B. They would require jet fuel tanks and piping to distribute. They would require revised ammunition bunkering, movement and handling. Their decks would need thermal plasma applied heat coating to allow vertical or rolling landing. The cost is not insurmountable but even when completed the maximum payload for a Canbera class would be around 10-12 jets and a couple of supporting helos. So very much a light carrier. These ships are not ideal as aircraft carriers as they are optimised… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 day ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The Canberras will already be sorted to fuel a F35B. As their helicopters use the same fuel, plus the fuel line to aircraft connector will be a NATO standard pressurized fitting. The Italian Navy have both the Cavour and soon the Trieste. Both can operate F35Bs, but the Trieste also has a well deck, which puts it in the same league as the Wasp/America class, though it has a much larger flight deck surface area. Whereas, the Cavour is purely aircraft ops only It will be interesting to see if they run both ships simultaneously or whether they have one… Read more »

James Fennell
James Fennell
2 days ago
Reply to  Jay R

Japan has ordered F-35Bs and Korea has shown intention to buy them.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63
1 day ago
Reply to  James Fennell

And Singapore too I believe.

RobW
RobW
1 day ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

They ordered 4 B models to test, I think the idea being to disperse them amongst local roads etc if the need arose. They have options for more but no order as yet.

Last edited 1 day ago by RobW
The Big Man
The Big Man
1 day ago
Reply to  Jay R

Not Spain as they are second to last on NATO spend. Not meeting their obligations by a long way.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 day ago
Reply to  The Big Man

To be honest Nato Membership for Spain gains them marginal benefit with a significant increased risk.

Im surprised they have stayed in NATO and not just fallen out with a declaration if neutrality.

Simon
Simon
2 days ago

F35b club, welcome aboard.

Armchair Admiral
Armchair Admiral
1 day ago

It’s a credit to all concerned that the QE has been designed, produced and bought into service with virtually no snags whatever (of any consequence) (and ignoring political tampering) and is cross decking a fifth generation aircraft from other nations with gay abandon it seems to me.

Surely this sort of cross decking should encourage the rise in the latter day “harrier carrier” for nations unable to spend the sorts of sums required on American style super-carriers?

Quite a good video on YouTube debunking the arguments against the Ozzie’s using their Canberra’s for aircraft.

AA

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 day ago

You will have the woke police after you, gay abandon indeed!

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 day ago

The article lists the Italian Air Force, which is receiving F-35A’s, so they could Not possible land on the QE!

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 day ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Hi Meirion

The Italian airforce is to get 15 F35B as well as the 60F35A, the Italian navy will be getting 15F35Bs.

It looks like the Italian plan is the same as the UKs with the Cavour hosting both their naval air arm and airforce.

Good write up in the aviationist.

https://theaviationist.com/2021/11/22/italian-air-force-f-35b-cavour/

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 day ago
Reply to  Meirion x

Italy is going for a mixed fleet f35As for airforce F35Bs for navy. Navy order is somewhat smaller. The Italian navy requires around 18-20 aircraft to equip Cavour and new Trieste. Close air support of an amphibious landing. Combat air patrols. With limitation that unless they purchase Crowsnest then they have zero Airborne early warning and control. It is a useful force as even 18-20 F35Bs give NATO commanders a useful first wave attack force as well as an interceptor that is without doubt one of the best in the world. Evidence is coming out that F35Bs in eastern med… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
1 day ago
Reply to  Mr Bell

The Italian Navy use four Merlins equipped with the Leonardo’s HEW-748 radar. It has been less than successful.

They are now planning on replacing this with Leonardo’s Osprey 50 AESA radar. However, instead of just four aircraft fitted with the radar, they are going to fleet fit it. The Osprey will replace the existing nose radar in the ASW variant, but also install two more panels either side of the cabin facing rearwards, to give it a 360 degree view.

Leonardo have said the Osprey radar will give the Italian Navy a significant step change in capability.

Itlaian EH101 AEW.jpg
AlexS
AlexS
22 hours ago
Reply to  Daveyb

The Italian Navy use four Merlins equipped with the Leonardo’s HEW-748 radar. It has been less than successful.

Did not worked because it was an ad hoc conversion made on cheap, they increased the radar antenna size and that was just it. No link 16, no update signal processing. The antenna in the Merlin bottom could also not be increased in vertical aspect so the target altitude discrimination was limited.

DaveyB
DaveyB
17 hours ago
Reply to  AlexS

That’s pretty much what I heard, rubbish range, really poor target resolution and antiquated signal processing.

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 day ago

It does really show how flexible the F35B is as a navel aviation asset. The ability of allied nations to work from each other’s carriers is huge. A nato or other allied carrier in the med or Pacific being able to go from one squadron to packed on deck is geopolitically and strategically huge. In future the fact a Queen Elizabeth is trotting around the the med with a minimal air wing will be far more impactful if it can be re-enforced by other NATO squadrons of F35Bs in a short time ( with the F35B having very quick carrier… Read more »

Lee1
Lee1
1 day ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Two things are a bonus for the F35B. Firstly other nations can easily land on other nations carriers without significant planning or training. (Even a qualified cat/trap pilot needs to be very careful Landing in a carrier they are not used to as the flight path etc will be different) also the rate of operations is significantly increased due to the quick turnaround of aircraft.

Although I would have liked the UK carriers to have cats and traps to make them even more flexible, it was the right decision to go with the F35B

Jonathan
Jonathan
1 day ago
Reply to  Lee1

Yes agree Lee if we had all the money needed for two+ cats and traps carriers as well ( most importantly) as the planes and aircrew mass to keep at least one ( or two ) carrier air group fully qualified then cats and traps is the way to go. But for the U.K. with our limits ( especially on air crew and planes) the ability to suddenly qualify and surge lots of aircraft onto the carrier without maintaining a full air wing at all times is huge. We know that the Royale really struggles to maintain a carrier qualified… Read more »

Chris rebel
Chris rebel
1 day ago
Reply to  Jonathan

They struggle to stay current because the CDG struggles to stay at sea. In the USN the pilots rebuild their carrier quals at the start of the deployment. Each pilot gets 10 traps (4 at night) and they’re good to go. You can usually get an entire squadron requalled in a few hours, assuming you have a follow on night sortie.

Rob
Rob
1 day ago

Brilliant. Have we retrieved that very wet F35 yet?

Deep32
Deep32
1 day ago
Reply to  Rob

No, not yet. Think they still have to locate all of it first.

Rob
Rob
1 day ago
Reply to  Deep32

👍

robin
robin
1 day ago

Do they get invoiced for the fuel?

Rob
Rob
1 day ago

What a fantastic NATO and wider western alliance capability. OK Italy, or Japan or S Korea, or possibly Australia. You plonk a Sqn on our QE class carrier and provide a DDG escort and we all go together. What a brilliant force multiplier!

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
1 day ago
Reply to  Rob

Thats the advantage of having an “oversized vstol carrier” the QE class can accomodate allied aircraft and merge them with RN/RAF assets. Especially Crowsnest and type 45 screen.

Airborne
Airborne
1 day ago

The Italians seem to do very well with their equipment and organisation considering the limited budget they have in comparison to many other NATO countries.

Steve M
Steve M
1 day ago
Reply to  Airborne

Wish we could get a Carvour type ship as replacement for Ocean!!

Steve M
Steve M
1 day ago
Reply to  Steve M

or better yet 2x https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italian_landing_helicopter_dock_Trieste to replace Ocean, Albion & Bulwark along with the MRSS ?

AlexS
AlexS
22 hours ago
Reply to  Steve M

It would be good because Trieste can also host F-35 increasing fleet flexibility.

Chris rebel
Chris rebel
1 day ago

As great as this seems, there needs to be a push for a CTOL conversion. The STOVL thing is a short term, dead end solution. There are no other fixed wing aircraft the QE can realistically operate, and there are huge capability gaps with the existing F-35. Buddy tanking, AWACS, offensive counter air COIN and CAP are seriously limited in this scenario. SM has already indicated that crowsnest is heavily deficient. You need to be at 25,000+ft to see the strategic horizon. The costs of operating the F-35 for every single situation is another issue. Spending $35,000 a flight hour… Read more »

Last edited 1 day ago by Chris rebel
Gunbuster
Gunbuster
1 day ago
Reply to  Chris rebel

This was looked at during build and the conversion was north of a Billion for EMALS. A good rule of thumb for modifications on commercial ships . Mods installed during Panel building are 1.5 x the cost of doing the work from day 1. Mods installed during Block building 3x Cost of doing the work from day 1 When the ship is built and the other systems are installed its something like 5x the cost of doing the work from day 1. If you want to use steam add another Billion onto it. Fitting old boilers, piping, feed water, finding… Read more »

Meirion x
Meirion x
1 day ago
Reply to  Chris rebel

The costs would come to much more, but transfered to the CTOL carrier.

Last edited 1 day ago by Meirion x
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
20 hours ago
Reply to  Chris rebel

The v/stol aircraft has a long life in it yet. Lift fan drones could be built. The queen class are going to develop a lot with drones and small catapults. The uk has often led the way with carrier development. The Americans tend to play it safe with going with what works on the carrier. They have a massive defence budget. 2 us carriers with airwing and crew, shore facilities etc would take up the RN entire budget if not the whole defence budget. The Uk needs to push the research on kit for non catapult equipped ships. The market… Read more »