Lockheed Martin has been awarded a $11.6 million contract to support first of class flying trials and the release of the ‘military permit to fly’ for F-35 aircraft to operate from Queen Elizabeth class carriers.
According to a contract notice issued on the U.S. Department of Defense website:
“Lockheed Martin Corp., Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, is being awarded $11,566,000 for cost-plus-fixed-fee undefinitized delivery order 0144 against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-14-G-0020).
This order provides support for the first of class flying trials and the release of the military permit to fly for F-35B aircraft to operate from Queen Elizabeth class carriers in support of the government of the United Kingdom.
Work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas (68 percent); Samlesbury, United Kingdom (26 percent); Orlando, Florida (3 percent); and Patuxent River, Maryland (3 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2018. International partner funds in the amount of $5,783,000 will be obligated at time of award, none of which will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland, is the contracting activity.”
In order to prepare for operating from HMS Queen Elizabeth, Royal Navy sailors have also trained alongside their US Navy counterparts on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. According to a US Navy press release, the Royal Navy sent six Sailors to integrate into Wasp’s flight deck operations to prepare them for their upcoming Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.
Royal Navy sailor Richard Clark said:
“Living with one another is good for integration, so when we work together, when we have your aircraft come to our flight decks, and vice versa, we’ll have a bit more awareness of how we each operate. It helps us work with you better on different platforms when we need to.
This is the first group of guys who are not 1st Classes. Some of them have never been on a ship before, so for the younger guys, it’s good for them to get experience.”
Recent F-35 trials aboard the USS Wasp weren’t just an operational test for the United States Marine Corps, with much of the data produced being used to inform the USMC’s declaration of initial operating capability but also for the United Kingdom.
UK personnel were fully embedded in the USS Wasp trials and will use the data gathered from this event, future trials and operational deployments to support the UK’s flying trials aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth off the US coast in Spring next year.
British F-35 pilots also recently embarked on the USS America for at-sea developmental testing phase 3 (known as DT), 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 about the upcoming trials on the HMS Queen Elizabeth:
“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.”