MP Hywel Plaid, with responsibilities within Plaid Cymru including defence, recently tweeted that the new aircraft carriers had no aircraft. When the UK Defence Journal pointed out he was wrong… his staff blocked the UK Defence Journal.
HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35 jets have been out to sea a few times now for trials and exercises so it’s hard to imagine people, especially a Member of Parliament specialising in defence, spreading the ‘carrier with no planes’ myth.
Part of what we do, for those unaware, is challenge myths like this that are repeated, unintentionally or otherwise, by members of all political parties and other organisations.
With the almost two years of imagery and videos showing British F-35B jets operating from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, you can imagine my surprise to read the following tweet from a Member of Parliament.
Hi Hywell, we can absolutely confirm that these aren't pigeons but in fact British owned and operated combat aircraft on a British aircraft carrier. Maybe buy a new hat. pic.twitter.com/0GUk9os9im
— UK Defence Journal (@UKDefJournal) March 19, 2021
When we reached out to Hywel via e-mail, he responded, to his credit, with the following.
“Please accept my apologies I was not aware that you had been blocked. My twitter account is run by one of my staff. However I take full responsibility for anything that appears. I will arrange for you to be unblocked.
I stand corrected of course as to the current availability of aircraft on the Carrier and apologise to those who complained.
To explain, briefly, the tweet referred to a large billboard which appeared some two years ago ( I think) in the Westminster tube station. It showed the aircraft carrier with machines taking of, this at a time when I understand the UK has no such aircraft. That is why it started in the past tense ‘had’. Further on I wrongly used the word ‘doesn’t’ whereas it should have read ‘didn’t’. I hope that this explains matters and that you will carry my apology in any further reporting.”
Hywel has apologised, that’s the matter over in my view.
The myth that the carriers have no aircraft often gets repeated by politicians from all parties, many of you will be aware of our Twitter campaign to correct this claim across the political spectrum.
The first jets touched down in 2018.
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) September 28, 2018
In 2023, the UK will have 42 F-35 aircraft, with 24 being front-line fighters and the remaining 18 will be used for training (at least 5 on the OCU), be in reserve or in maintenance.
There are a number of myths surrounding HMS Queen Elizabeth and her sister ship HMS Prince of Wales, you can read more about them here.