HMS Queen Elizabeth has received a ‘flying visit’ from a US Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey aircraft.

The MV-22B variant is an assault transport for troops, equipment and supplies, capable of operating from ships or expeditionary airfields ashore. It replaced the US Marine Corps CH-46E and CH-53D fleets.

Late last month, F-35 jets landed on aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time. The event marked the first time an F-35 has ever landed on a non-American vessel and it helps bring an end to the eight-year hiatus since a British aircraft carrier last operated a fast jet from its deck.

On the 25th of September Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray made history by being the first to land an F-35B on HMS Queen Elizabeth.

He was followed by Squadron Leader Andy Edgell, RAF, both of whom are test pilots, operating with the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

Shortly afterwards, once a deck inspection has been conducted and the all-clear given, Cdr Gray became the first pilot to take off using the ship’s ski-ramp.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“The largest warship in British history is joining forces with the most advanced fighter jets on the planet. This marks a rebirth of our power to strike decisively from the seas anywhere in the world. The historic first landing on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth is a monumental moment in our country’s proud military history. It is also a statement of Britain’s determination to promote peace and prevent war.”

The landings mark the start of more than 500 take-offs and touch-downs set to take place from the mammoth warship during the next 11-weeks, with the jets being put through their paces in a range of weather conditions.

Commanding Officer, Capt Jerry Kyd, who was also the captain of HMS Ark Royal when the last Harrier took off from a carrier, said:

“I am quite emotional to be here in HMS Queen Elizabeth seeing the return of fixed wing aviation, having been the captain of the aircraft carrier which launched the last Harrier at sea nearly eight years ago.

The regeneration of big deck carriers able to operate globally, as we are proving here on this deployment, is a major step forward for the United Kingdom’s defence and our ability to match the increasing pace of our adversaries. The first touch-downs of these impressive stealth jets shows how the United Kingdom will continue to be world leaders at sea for generations to come.”

Commander UK Carrier Strike Group, Cdre Andrew Betton added:

“The Queen Elizabeth Class carriers have been specifically designed and built to operate the F-35 Lightning, offering an immensely flexible and potent combination to deliver military effect around the world.

Conducting these trials is a critical and exciting step on this journey and I applaud the many thousands of civilian and military personnel who have played a part in bringing the strategic ambition to reality.”

80 COMMENTS

    • Probably just a ‘flying’ visit – a Sea Stallion visited Queen Elizabeth the other day, and I don’t think the MOD have any plans to buy them!

      I think alot of people would like to see the Osprey in service with the RN, but personally, I’d like to see the Merlins in storage upgraded.

    • Validation, you do a test landing and sign off each model as compatible for landing, if there are any issues they can be addressed so that in future if theres a logistical/combat need you have no worries.

  1. I have to admit (although it will never happen) they do look awfully smart on QE’s deck!

    Would be nice to see the RN get a dedicated compliment of 6-8 of these to allow simultaneous landing of a company sized detachment in the event of QE/POW being used in the Amphibious role as planned!

    I know RAF/Chinook will do the job just as well, but don’t they look fancy!

    Even better in the AAR role… We can all dream!

    • The main benefit of them is in the replenishment role. We could fly parts and personnel to the carriers much easier due to the much bigger range than the chinooks. But they are pretty expensive at almost twice the cost.

      • (Chris H) Lee1 – FSS will have 2 of the Rolls Royce developed Heavy Replenishment at Sea (HRAS) systems capable of lifting 5 ton lumps (like F35 engines) reducing the need for a heavier lift helo / Osprey.

        Having said that I know people on here are making the case for Ospreys but they are very expensive to buy and maintain and I am not convinced they are the right tool for the jobs mentioned elsewhere. I think we need to define the problem first and then create the solution.

        If pushed I would suggest the Agusta Westland AW609 in 8 Te specification as that could do the AEW at height and distance function and add personnel and urgent freight on to what our helo fleet already provides. This would free up Merlins from the AEW role for use elsewhere. As a general comment to not have a Chinook permanently embedded with the FAA on the carriers seems daft to me.

    • The Chinooks are very capable, but the Osprey does the job much faster & at longer ranges, which is a big plus. Ospreys or the next tilt rotor development would also be great COD, aerial tankers & AEW platforms for our carriers.

  2. What gets cut to pay for them if MoD ordered half a dozen for a small RNAS for QEC?

    Luxury item surely given its cost.

    • The RAF Regiment.
      According to 2012 figures its running costs alone are £120milion per year. Its job can be and frequently is done by the Army. Redistribute that much needed wasted cash to the Army and RN to pay for the Osprey and extra Engineers.
      A fleet of RN operated MV22 would transform the carriers into truly capable power projection assets. They are adaptable though expensive per flying hour the possiblity of Crowsnest and tanker transport practically kicks the chinook off the deck.
      A true Gannet replacement.

      • Not being in the military I have none of the anti RAF Regiment bias I often read from army types.

        But I have often wondered myself how the RAF Reg survives, and whether an army infantry battalion could not be allocated into the air support role on a permanent basis.

        We have plenty of them with no discernable role after all.

        • Problem being twofold, the RAF reg are justified in the RAF core budget as they state they are “air minded” and understand the air force concept of operations, and that if they are binned then the Army will be tasked to take on the role. Correct Daniele that there are a number of light role in Battalions with no obvious discernable role, but a large number of these Battalions are already back filling any units which are training for, or are on ops. The Army does not want to tie in another commitment by stagging on Air Fields etc, but if we are truthfully, the RAF reg could be replaced by private security or maybe the Air cadets lol.

          No seriously they claim to be a rather special force but they don’t utilise Brecon for any leadership course etc and do their sniper cadres, leadership, P Coy etc “in house” which does not promote a standardised playing field. Lets be honest the RAF get most of the vocal support in Westminster (aside from the Brigade of Guards that is) and the RAF reg will be defended as long as it is deemed a requirement. And on a final point yes the RAF reg do provide a platoon minus to the SFSG but they never really mention they are doing a bit of comms and JTACing which the Army has lads qualified in, in droves, and that being in the SFSG is a way of saying they are one of the big 3, Paras, Marines, RAF reg, but as we say in the Army, they are in the big 3, the cadets, the reserves and then the RAF reg!!!!

          • P Company may not exist in the RAF Regt but Pre-Para does (or perhaps Did now!). I know, I commanded the course for two years at RAF Catterick. The three week pre-requisite course for the Parachute Sqn. may not have been as intensive as P Company but it certainly fulfilled the criteria for being a “Para”.

          • Which begs the question Airborne if those Infantry battalions are being used as backfill for other units that’s not only a dreadful state if affairs but why are they being maintained as separate identities?

            Is this the “Cap Badge Mafia” again?

            In A2020 and A2020 Refine the RS, RA, RE, REME, RLC have all been hit and those enablers are needed.

            Well it is the Joint SFSG so at least they are represented! Mainly from 2 Squadron I believe, the para trained outfit?

            There is no way anyone can seriously compare the RAF Reg to the Corps of RM or the Parachute Regiment. Do the Rock Apes seriously believe that?

          • To be fair the RAF Regiment do a specialist role that the army would have to fill if they were disbanded. It would mean the Army residing on RAF Bases etc and would either take from the Army numbers or would mean the army simply having to take on the same number of people to fulfil the role. You might as well keep the Regiment…

            They also provide the specialist CBRN

          • Hi Lee1.

            They provide CBRN through the CBRN Wing because JMG stupidly cut the Joint CNRN Regiment in 2010. Patyvofcthst was 27 Squadron RAF Reg.

            I understand it’s days are numbered and the army will assume the role again.

        • Oh I missed a good old RAF Reg rant, it’s not too late to post something shitty is it? Going to do it anyway.
          They are already on the chopping block, they know it and yes they do think they are a cut above an Army line infantry unit even though they do not train in anything larger then Coy size. All the lads I have worked with have an opposite setup to an Inf unit, usually in Army units the junior lads are alright but get more and more up their own arse as you go up through the ranks. In the RAF reg the senior lads are pretty switched on and down to earth, where the junior guys are a self purchased plate carrier in Costa, Oakley touting, crye trouser wearing nightmares with delusions of grandeur. We cant get rid of them, what would I complain about?

          BV

          • BV, never ever to late to bash base rat Bastion specials. Come on BV you know damn well that Costa was dangerous in KAF, hot drinks everywhere, possible spillage, stained combat trousers and having to get laundered every day. And then, they have to go ” outside the wire” aaaaaaaaaagh! The problem with these boys is that they believe their own press, and that my friend is a dangerous place to be.

          • Oh and BV have to laugh at the 2 Sqn lads, as most think their badge is some sort of SF wings, when in facts it’s from when they were a Rolls Royce armoured car company in the 20s, 30s, and the central part is the forward facing tyre of a Rolls Royce armoured car, with a set of griffin wings on them.

          • KAF had better facilities the most package holidays, I would genuinely take my wife and kids there for a weekend away.

            I’m not ammo expended yet, own osprey shooting (remember that one), 5 miler of death running, soon to be redundant bunch of lizards.

            It’s not their fault, if you get told you are amazing SF sorts but never actually meet anyone other then soft fluffy light blue chaps then you can see why they fall for it.

            This feels like kicking the defenceless, do we have any RAF bods that’s can bat for the other side (There us a joke there if someone wants it) ?

            Bv

      • Yes!!!! The RAF regiment is the bizarre sacred cow of the great rear echelon. Time it went and we fund some front line Army and Navy systems.

      • Ah Ali I see you are a member of the Sharkey Ward school of military thinking that sees anything that the RAF does as something to be cut and the money handed over to the Royal Navy to buy whatever Toy the Armchair Admirals fancy.

        The RAF has the Regiment for the same reason that the Royal Navy has the Marines, it is far easier to boss around people who guard your facilities if they are within your force structure than outside it.

        The Regiment also does some tasks that are unique to the RAF like Airfield bomb disposal that whilst could be farmed out is easier kept in house.

        • (Chris H) Fedaykin – Good to find myself agreeing with you on this. The logic seems to be “lets cut the RAF Regiment, get the army to do that job and transfer that £120 Mn to the Navy to buy an Osprey …”

          Except of course the Army are short of numbers for the tasks they have. No problem! Transfer the RAF lads and lasses to the Army … oh wait noooo .. that may take the £120 Mn it already costs…

          So: No new toys for the Andrew, pissed of bunch of Crabs now with the Pongos doing the same job they did before and RAF top brass seeking revenge on the other two forces.

          Good fun though …

          • It happens, a broken clock is correct twice a day and all that…

            In the end it boils down to the fact that the RAF just the same as the RN and Army need to have bods with rifles guarding stuff.

            If the Army is guarding RAF stuff, does it come out of the Army core budget or RAF? Are those soldiers detached from their unit to guard RAF stuff? Just the same as the tired old argument that people don’t join the RAF to go to sea it likewise goes that people didn’t join the Army to guard an RAF Radar station in the Outer Hebrides!

            I have lost count of the amount of times I have heard people state that the RAF Regiment are for the chopping block.

            The RAF Regiment is a convenient solution that comes out of the RAF core budget, disbanding them causes more problems than it solves.

          • No offence but research is needed… you have clearly answered the reason for scrapping them within your own argument. Jobs for the boys?
            The RAF Regiment was created to stop the Nazis doing a Crete to the UK. .Oh and to rival Goering’s Luffwaffe Divisions for propaganda purposes.
            Its reason to exist actually disappeared in the late 1980’s when mobile area air defence got a lot better. As with the Royal Artillery.
            It is a total waste of effort. The recruiting Sergeants could easily send people who want to be soldiers to the Army.
            It costs a fortune over and above the “core budget”.
            Bit like saying the professional singer must be a commissioned officer when he was recruited as a JNCO. Its just to keep the numbers up when it’s time to speak to the minister and beg for cash.
            The RAF does not need a Regiment of base guards in the UK or abroad for that matter. Either that or they don’t need the base security teams they have now so no more RAF Police or MoD Plod or anyone else for that matter. And when deployed abroad the Army does the job through the Engineers and Artillery who would benefit massively from an extra cash injection.
            Its certainly not a tired argument either could not be more pertinent outside of the taxpayer funded RAF club…if you get membership that is.

          • No you are still spouting utterly partisan nonsense Ali, so no offence taken.

            I find it funny that you are asking others to do more research when you clearly have done none yourself beyond what is written on the Phoenix Thinktank website…

  3. my personal feeling is that this was more than just a flying visit, you can bet every pound that the flight was monitored and assessed, so that maybe the future capability of an embarkment of both royal marines and US marines could potentially take place. at least now they know the capability is there since the osprey has touched down on deck. since its almost certain that QE will be sailing as part of a mixed battle group it makes sense that she would also potentially welcome US marines on board in case of trouble too.

    • If we go to war with the US from the sea the chances are our carriers will be used in conjunction with the USN amphibians and the USMC. USN LHx configured for assault would have 22 MV-22 aboard. So either the could fly from our ships (which would look very spectacular) or perhaps their F35b would be moved from the the LHx to our carriers. This is why we should be doubling down on our amphibious capability instead of cutting marine numbers. (Just as Japan and Australia and Italians are investing in the capability.)

  4. I’ve never really been a fan of the MV22, apparently troops love them as they feel less exposed when flying over a hostile environment but I feel the MV22 is a bit overly complex especially when the air frames get older and need additional maintenance.
    The US is already moving onto a second tilt rotar design so if the UK was to select a design I think they would be better holding off until the concept has a longer track record.

  5. Can it do a ski jump take off with higher payload?Not that we’ll get any, but might help USMC with their UK taxpayer funded carriers.

  6. I hope we some photos of MV22 from above on QE’s flighdeck so we can some scale.

    MV-22 are very ‘Gerry Anderson’ but they would be a nightmare for us. We are struggling to find funds for more conventional beasts. At what £55 million a pop just not worth it.

  7. This Is All Good, I’m of the opinion someone has their Eye on the Ball In regards to Future Capability. Not least the possibility of Air to Air Refuelling. With 24 F35B’s Embarked as Standard This will leave Adequate Space for Ospreys. Does anyone know If they Fit the Lifts and Hanger ?

  8. These things flew over London a few years back from Mildenhall and it gave rise to reports in the media that UKSF are interested or had actually purchased.

    With the UK spotter fraternity I find this impossible to believe, they’d be seen in no time, and photographed.

  9. When Donald Trump came a couple of months ago three of them circled over Muswell Hill in north London for about an hour.

  10. As Chris has posted I personally think that the aw609 would be of better benefit as AEW&C is an important role and therefore having something that can go high and stay high for longer. And it would free up merlins in terms of other roles perhaps the valor tilt rotor would be a good addition especially for personnel recovery, sf insertion and supporting amphibious assault. The valor could also replace the pumas? Potentially this may depend upon the outcome of the USAs competition but just a thought as possible cheaper option? Obviously got to wait though

      • (Chris H) Ron5 – Well the Dash – 8 was civilian until it became the KC-135 Stratotanker, the RC-135 Rvet Joint and the E-3 Sentry. The A330 was civilian until it became the Voyager. The 737 was civilian until it became the P-8 and E-7 … Etc etc

        My point about the AW609 was made because a) it is now a UK / Italian project and we would directly benefit here in the UK, b) It is therefore easier to tailor for our needs, c) being smaller and lighter are actually big pluses on board a carrier and d) AEW does not need a complex Osprey or a 14 Te all up Merlin. AEW needs height, speed and endurance. Everything an AW609 does better than a Merlin or V-280:
        V-280:
        Cruise: 320 MPH
        Range: 900 Mi
        Ferry: 2,400 Mi
        Ceiling: 6,000 Ft
        All Up: 14 Te

        AW609:
        Cruise: 315 MPH
        Range: 860 Mi
        Ferry: 1,100 Mi
        Ceiling: 25,000 Ft
        All Up: 8 Te

        Merlin:
        Cruise: 160 MPH
        Range: 500 Mi
        Ferry: Zero
        Ceiling: 15,000 Ft
        All Up: 14 Te

        For extra comparison to help the discussion:
        V-22 Osprey:
        Cruise: 280 MPH
        Range: 1,000 Mi
        Ferry: 2,230 Mi
        Ceiling: 25,000 Ft
        All Up: 23 Te

        And yes I happily admit I have a great preference for buying aircraft built here rather than buy an American built aircraft that is designed for their use and not ours. Which means we are the ones compromising, we end up with not exactly what we need and we export high skilled jobs. At best we should buy a dozen Merlins rather than 3 Ospreys.

      • If you visit the leonardo site they are offering it in military versions and are developing drop tanks etc. For AEW&C we don’t need a large aircraft the current crowsnest only has a few operators in the back most of the information will be data linked to the carriers. But the higher you go the greater your over the horizon ability

        • Just to add the aw609 has a pressurised cabin so is really the only option for high AEW&C unless you want the crew to wear oxygen masks for long periods of time

        • You are sooooooo wrong about Crowsnest.

          And a few words on a site describing an Italian aircraft that isn’t even in production after one of the longest development efforts doesn’t mean squat. Bell withdrew from the program for very good reasons.

          • (Chris H) Ron5 – So correct us on Crowsnest and why it wouldn’t provide better protection flown 10,000 feet higher than a Merlin?

            And I suspect those of us commenting have read far more than what Leonardo are publishing.

            Bell went with Lockheed Martin for one main reason – They knew they would never get a foot in with US Senators regardless of what the US Army want if some pesky foreign outfit was involved. And Agusta Westland have been there before with Lockheed Martin with the ‘Marine One’ Merlins so I suspect they wanted out as well.

            The other reason is Bell wanted the V-280 to be a different machine to the AW609 and like all American things it has become bigger and heavier.

            Which brings me back nicely to why I believe the AW609 should be looked at very hard by the UK Government for use on the carriers for AEW and personnel transfer and as ‘faster Pumas’ as that fleet of 23 (from 40) are retired. A Puma is a 150 MPH, 7 Te all up aircraft with a 15,000 Ft ceiling.

          • This was incorrect:

            “For AEW&C we don’t need a large aircraft the current crowsnest only has a few operators in the back most of the information will be data linked to the carriers”

            The Italian AW609, if it ever becomes a military aircraft which I doubt, is way too small to be useful to the RN.

            I’m ignoring your ridiculous anti American paranoia.

          • (Chris H) Ron5 – Sadly no response to my request to disprove Crowsnest is not better cover at higher altitude and just an unsupported opinion on a statement about numbers of personnel.

            A Merlin changing from the ASW role to ASaC / AEW will have its dipping sonar, sonobuoy carousel and consoles removed before Crowsnest equipment is added. That takes 24 hours, requires a pre-prepared airframe and removes one asset from ASW defence. Adding AW609s already fitted with Crowsnest adds to protection not reduces it. And it requires two operators in addition to the two pilots.

            And then you say my statement:
            “I happily admit I have a great preference for buying aircraft built here rather than buy an American built aircraft that is designed for their use and not ours.”
            is nothing less than “ridiculous anti American paranoia”

            Being fiercely pro British does not mean I am in any way paranoid or anti American by which logic every American can be called an ‘anti British paranoid’ – Hmmm… But nice rant.

            Shame you added the square root of sod all to the conversation.

  11. My peneth worth…. If the money was made available and Air Tanker cleared it without a massive payout, I would purchase a limited number (12) V22’s.

    I would procure the developed COD US Navy version and add AAR capability, plus the ability to use the Crows nest system.

    5 or 6 adaptive and easily and quickly re rolled V22’s would provide a very considerable boost to the active carrier.

    To add to this, I would proceed with the development of external fuel tanks for the F35B.

    However without a serious increase in defence spending, it’s pure fantasy fleets stuff unfortunately.

  12. Nice photo….

    https://www.navy.mil/management/photodb/photos/181005-N-WX604-0192.JPG

    181005-N-WX604-0192 BALTIMORE (Oct. 5, 2018) The Duke-class Type 23 frigate HMS Monmouth (F 235) is moored in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor during Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore 2018. Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore is Baltimore’s celebration of the sea services and provides an opportunity for the citizens of Maryland and the city of Baltimore to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see firsthand the latest capabilities of today’s maritime services. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joseph E. Montemarano/Released)

    Cheers!

  13. There would be advantages to the Osprey for both Commando and Refueling roles. But if there us soare cash 25 new build Merlin HM2s would be better.

  14. Referencing AEW, the JMSDF is buying NINE more E2D’s… They already have 4 on order I believe and they were thought to be looking at another 5. The PLAN is really getting on their nerves and this only reinforces my belief that a CATOBAR (2 hull class) carrier is in the near future for them after experimenting with the Izumo class and F35B’s. This will make them by far the largest operator of the type outside the USN.

    https://www.janes.com/article/83775/japan-to-buy-nine-more-e-2d-aircraft-from-the-united-states

    Cheers!

  15. One use for the Ofspray operating from our carriers could be special opps, given the Ofspray’s longer range. Maybe just two or three for the role?

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