Recent media speculation is claiming HMS Queen Elizabeth would head to North Korea if conflict breaks out. But, to do what?
A senior Whitehall source reportedly told the Daily Mail:
“We have plenty of ships to send… the Type-45 destroyers, the Type-23 frigates. Britain’s new aircraft carrier could be pressed into service early if things turn south.”
The only problem with this is, there doesn’t really seem to be any point to it and it would severely disrupt the schedule of bringing the vessel and her aircraft into service.
The UK currently has 13 F-35s with more being delivered but they’re all in the United States. The plan, essentially, is to work up both the ship and her aircraft simultaneously to a point where the jets can begin integrating with the carrier. To that end both will require a series of trials to ensure they can function together safely and this complex programme of trials are already underway.
F-35 flight trials due to begin off the eastern coast of the United States in Autumn 2018.
Captain Jerry Kyd, commander of HMS Queen Elizabeth, commented on the initial deployment in 2021 and how difficult that will be, even with far more aircraft than are available for the carriers today:
“We are constrained by the F-35 buy rate even though that was accelerated in SDSR in 2015, so initial operating capability numbers in 2020 are going to be very modest indeed.
We will flesh it out with helicopters, and a lot depends on how many USMC F-35s come on our first deployment in 2021. But by 2023, we are committed to 24 UK jets onboard, and after that it’s too far away to say.”
HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently in Portsmouth about to be commissioned into the Royal Navy. She is not going to war anytime soon.