While this isn’t the first time British jets have landed on the aircraft carrier, it is the first time that the famous Dambusters have touched down onboard the ship.

The Ministry of Defence say that 617 Squadron – famously known as the Dambusters – have joined HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea.

According to the Royal Navy, the aim is to demonstrate that the jets can successfully defend the aircraft carrier by delivering combat air patrols – launching from the ship to conduct strike missions against a target – and being ready to take off at short notice.

“After the initial qualification period, 617 Squadron will test their ability to work with Portsmouth-based HMS Queen Elizabeth and Merlin helicopters of Culdrose-based 820 Naval Air Squadron by conducting a number of complex training missions. This is all in preparation for their second embarkation later in the year when the squadron will join the carrier and her task group for a large multinational training exercise with US, European and NATO partners.

The Royal Navy is transforming into a force centred around carrier strike – supporting the ships as they conduct carrier strike missions, enforce no-fly zones, deploy Royal Marine Commandos, deliver humanitarian aid, and build international partnerships with our allies.”

Commander Mark Sparrow, the Commanding Officer of 617 Squadron, said in a Royal Navy news release:

“We are excited to be on board the carrier and we have been training hard to be here. This is the first time the ship’s operational squadron has embarked and worked together. The F-35 brings next generation capability to UK Defence through its ability to find, destroy or avoid enemy air defences and enemy aircraft whilst gathering intelligence data.”

Commander Ed Phillips is the Commander Air on board HMS Queen Elizabeth. He said:

“Today is a significant day for HMS Queen Elizabeth on the road to delivering carrier strike operations for the Royal Navy. We are at the heart of a world-leading capability for the UK and will soon have on our decks two squadrons of F-35s – from the UK and US – plus the protection of a strike group made up of destroyers, frigates and support ships.”

HMS Queen Elizabeth will now enter an intense period of flying having just successfully completed four weeks of basic sea training before returning to Portsmouth later this month.

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Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago

Great stuff.

But what are the F35’s actually carrying to carry out CAP ?

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago

I don’t think there is anything. We are told that sensors, comms and electronics are most important but surely yu have to be able to attack with something.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Morning Danielle, Nicholas,

According to this article in Defence News (last 2 paragrpahs) UK F-35’s carry ASRAAM, AMRAAM and Paveway with plans to integrate Meteor, Paveway 4 and SPEAR Cap3.

https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2019/01/10/uk-defense-chief-f-35-jets-are-ready-for-operations/

I can’t remember the time table for weapons integration but somewhere on here someone gave a very good summary of the integration program so I think it is online somewhere.

Work has already started.

https://www.baesystems.com/en/article/work-starts-integrating-next-generation-meteor-and-spear-onto-uk-f-35-fleet

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

That was me…here’s the current position (updated since last time), with some speculation and gaps that need to be closed. it’s a long post… UK F-35B armament is a little confused at present as a number of capabilities are being developed concurrent with F-35B development and deployment.The truth is that the UK’s F-35B must be regarded as under-armed for anything but air to air or SEAD/DEAD unless more munitions are integrated/purchased and fielded. The obvious point is that the UK’s F-35B won’t have ‘full’ combat capability until Blk.4 arrives c2026-28. That is now a little beyond the Carrier programmes goals… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Hi Rudeboy,

Great piece, thank you.

I agree that the UK has many issues with its weapons capabilities, but I am encouraged that MBDA / MoD clearly have a good working relationship which in turn appears to be leading to some very interesting and innovative developments and proposals. Some of them, as you say, could be brought forward quickly.

Cheaper weapons are a definate need for low intensity situations.

Thanks again fo rthe comprehensive write up.

Cheers CR

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Hi Danielle, Nicholas,

My main reply is awaiting moderation so the, hopefully, quick response is ASRAMM, AMRAAM and Paveway are currently carried by UK F-35. Need some thing to gain IOC.

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago

Hi Daniele, I think AMRAAM is cleared for internal carriage and in our inventory?

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yes both Block C and D versions

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Ah, I didn’t know we had nice shiny D ones too! I hear the block E (whenever that happens) is Raytheon’s answer to Meteor, although I’d be interested to know exactly how they can get that much performance out of such an old design.
Would be nice if someone would properly fund anti-radiation version of Meteor, and other such things…

DaveyB
DaveyB
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

We managed to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. The Typhoon Tranche 1s cannot use the Meteor missile only AMRAAM in the BVR role. It has been fielding the Block C version. We are purchasing a number of Block Ds for it. At the same time F35s were also being cleared for the D version. The Block C and D are the same physical size, so it’s a just a software upgrade and clearance sign-off, rather than a new risk and safety case. We will at some point in the near future be getting a modified Meteor… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

That’s handy! I do wish we’d move our Tranche 1 Typhoons on and replace with Tranche 3s, but to be honest I’d prefer we save the money and uuse it on Tempest if it’s one or the other (which it most defintitely is).
I’ve read around that the modifications to the Meteor’s fins so that they’ll fit in the F-35’s bays will negatively impact the performance; don’t suppose you know if that’s true? I’d imagine they wouldn’t publish much information one way or the other, but thought I’d ask anyway!

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

The change to the Meteors fins apparently has near negligible effect on performance. The fins are not attached to the missile in its storage box, but attached by the armourers prior to loading. Essentially a Meteor storage box could include both types of fins and the armourers could select whichever the platform required.

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Glad to hear that!

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

No such thing as a AMRAAM E. There is an acceptance that the development path for AMRAAM has ended with the D. US focus has switched to the new AIM-260 (which has yet to be revealed). Raytheon did propose what became the Amraam D to the UK as part of the FMRAAM programme that led to Meteor (it was called ERAAM), when that clearly didn’t come close to the spec. they came up with a theoretical Ramjet powered Amraam called FVRAAM. But the MoD weren’t fooled and went with Meteor. This should tell everyone just how far behind the curve… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

That’s what you get for going too far down message boards..! It was probably some random hypothetical that someone was on.
Is the Japanese Meteor development something that the MOD is buying into, or is it justs an MBDA venture?

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

No idea at present. It’s UK/Japan, that’s all we know. But it makes sense that it essentially becomes a Meteor mk.2 when it arrives to keep Meteor at the top of the game.

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

yeah, I see what you’re saying, in the same way that Brimstone flowed into Brimstone 2

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Yes, I guessed so Joe. I only asked as we all know how HMG love to put out the PR spin about how good things are, while those with some knowledge are aware of lack of weaponry and barely any ability to kill the enemy. That is, after all, the ultimate role of any armed forces.

How utterly un PC is that.

Until the PC lot currently running riot in this country remove all weapons from the military. Which to be fair has been going on for years in some areas of the political spectrum!

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago

Yes, I know what you mean! I think that the idea of humanity marching into a peace-on-earth future on the back of equality and education for all is a fiction. That’s not to say that equality and education for all isn’t something we should aim for, it’s just that it isn’t going to bring peace on earth! Humanity has always had a competitive and violent streak, and we always will do; we’ve just been fortunate enough in the west to not have been able to push our experience of it out of our everyday lives by and large. There will… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Tribal warfare in mankind won’t vanish.

It’s why ET probably have no wish to converse with us!!

Seriously though. Agree with you.

Paul
Paul
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Walk softly and carry a big stick ! The problem with building up and consequently paying for a large military is the requirement to get your money’s worth at some point, a small but extremely capable “defence” force is probably the realistic future of UK force’s.

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago

Looks like it’s shaping up quite nicely. Once we get a 2nd operational squadron of F35s and can put 24 on the deck we’ll have a seriously powerful asset there.

Everyone loves to put down our armed forces due to their ever decreasing size but at the end of the day, once both QE and PoW are fully operational we will be one of only 2 countries that can operate a credible carrier strike force year-round. The other being the US.

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Its not putting down our armed forces to question capability problems forced upon them. If we look at a carrier strike group and ignore helicopter launched weapons where is the bite? The T26 will have no anti-ship weapons and no torpedos. The T45 has no torpedos and when Harpoon goes out of service no anti-ship. And for close air support at sea what is the F35 going to carry?

mezan morad
mezan morad
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

good answer

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Don’t think SR is referring to yourself, if that is the inference, as his remark predates. Regards

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Sorry, not predate, but still not aimed specifically

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Accepted. I’m letting my frustrations with underfunding get to me.

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Hi Nicholas,

No, that wasn’t aimed at you sorry. Not so much even anyone on this site per se.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Hi Nicholas, To answer your question – SPEAR 3. So quite a good capability. As for your other points, they are definately serious cpability gaps, although I should point out that there are now some very serious question marks with regards to the effectiveness of the 12.75inch light weight torpedo on surface vessels. The disparity in engagement range between the sonar / heavy weight torpedo combination carried on modern subs and the effective range of light weight torpedoes is such that there is considerable doubt that a surface vessel would ever get the chance to launch. ASROC or similar is… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I should say that light weight torpedoes are a last ditch defence for the rare occassion that a sub gets close and I’d suggest that last ditch defence is better than nothing, especially if there is a minimum engagement range for ASROC…

Cheers CR

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I’ve said before that a natural fit for ship launched LWT is point defence against incoming antiship torpedoes. That assumption unfortunately seems to be no more than ‘on the face of it’. I gather that in the fleet situations where they are very likely to be required they are too confused by the noise of surrounding vessels – perhaps why the RN seems to have moved out of love with them. Still, the proposed concept does seem valid; so one trusts that considerable research would be ongoing in the hope that such a missing link viz a viz short range… Read more »

Daveyb
Daveyb
3 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Gunbuster may be able to add more. Its been reported that the USN have taken their anti-torpedo torpedoes off their carriers, so there must be a good reason for it. If it operates the same as our Stingray where the torpedo is given the target data before launch then is on its own after that. It’s easy to imagine how the torpedo would struggle to identify the enemy torpedo amongst a bunch of ships that have just gone to max chat. It would perhaps be better if it had a fibre optic umbilical much like the heavier versions. This would… Read more »

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

So we have an escort/ASW frigate that when it enters service will have no way to atttack large ships or submarines, if we ignore the lightweight stuff carried by the helicopters. An ASW friigate that can’t attack submarines seems a bit odd, but at least the First Sea Lord will be pleased that the sensors and electronics are top notch.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Why do you assume the T26, or the T31 come to that, will not have the option of having canister ASM fitted? The RN will get interim ASM. If that’s NSM or the other likely candidates then its pretty much state of the art. Then there should be the results of the FC/ASW program for new missile(s). In the case of CSG, it would be F35B delivering ASM.

Also why ignore lightweight torpedoes launched from helicopters? That’s a standard solution for Western navies. What else do other navies use from surface ships against submarines?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

Something like this I assume?

“TS47 torpedo completes first ship, submarine firings
Saab’s business unit Underwater Systems, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (Försvarets materielverk/FMV), and the Swedish Armed Forces have disclosed details of the first firings of the new Torpedsystem 47 (TS47) lightweight torpedo from ship and submarine platforms.”

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/b26b4105-a7f4-4e45-867c-c6fa98d1a6fd

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

I guess I left myself open to ship launched light torpedoes as an option. However, the range of light torpedoes is so short that even when launched with ASROC they are still well outranged by heavy torpedoes, its clearly worse directly from the ship. The caveat is that if ships expect to be operating in constrained areas such as the littoral, especially among islands as in the case of Finland and Sweden and in the Baltic in general then there’s more chance of close contact between surface ships and submarines.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
3 months ago

I managed to find this article on the subject, Something is better than nothing!

“SEA (previously J+S Ltd) continue to support the mTLS system in Royal Navy service. The MoD will award a £7million contract for a ‘technical refresh’ of the control system in April 2020 for completion in 2024. The procurement of 8 upgrade sets has led some to speculate that perhaps mTLS will be migrated to the 8 Type 26 frigates.”

https://www.savetheroyalnavy.org/mtls-and-asroc-killing-the-submarine-without-a-helicopter/

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Thanks for the link. Usual good article from STRN. I can see how the RN would keep the mTLS in T23 up to date as a backup with minimal cost at this point. T23 mSTL might get transferred to T26 as STRN speculate, but it seems much more likely T26 would use an updated VLA with greater range as a much more capable backup, or even just the existing RUM-139 but with Sting Ray rather than Mk54. Of course for greater VLA range to be useful means actually being able to detect a submarine, even fleetingly, at distance, presumably in… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Bear in mind that ASROC is only a lightweight torpedo (inferior to the ones we carry on our helicopters), just delivered out to 20 km by a rocket motor. It’s a slightly niche capability, given the rather narrow engagement envelope that they provide compared to helo-launched systems. I’ve been wondering why we don’t have any, and this is the best reason I can come up with- it just wouldn’t be used enough to be worthwhile. I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice to have them on the T26, just that they may not be very useful. STRN did a good… Read more »

Andy
Andy
3 months ago
Reply to  Nicholas

Don’t forget the Astute.

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago
Reply to  Andy

In a real fight senario the escort Astute is going to be seriously busy.

Aethelstan the curioAreus
Aethelstan the curioAreus
3 months ago

Who knows, relations with China, post covid and Russia could well mean they and their capability prove to be an invaluable investment.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago

Yes indeed. The RN needs to support aircraft carriers and attack submarines if it is to prevail as a pelargic maritime force. That or get out of serious maritime pretensions i.e. to date an obvious UK forte. Airforces primarily excel in home defence. However, take them to sea and you extend their military usefulness, to the benefit of the RN, RAF – MOD (hence UK Government). This appears a simple strategic follow through.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Spot on Gavin IMHO. Carriers and SSN equal sea denial equal a serious navy.

Add amphibious, RFA and the RM to that with airpower.

Andy
Andy
3 months ago

They are ideal for an island campaign in the South China Sea, with their organic ability to deploy up to 900 marines.

mezan morad
mezan morad
3 months ago

what is the point you have a lot of weapons and you can’t even save your nations from a simple virus if is real

Bloke down the pub
Bloke down the pub
3 months ago

Any update on when Crowsnest capability will be joining the mix?

George
George
3 months ago

Hi folks hope all are well
Great to see and read the article. Seems a long time that the UK is once again a leading global power to deliver a punch if required to do so! Congratulations to all those that have worked hard to have QE and soon PW operating to protect the interests of the UK, and our allies. Also to note the US joint opperation from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth, fantastic news all round.
Cheers,
George

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
3 months ago
Reply to  George

Yeh, couldn’t agree more. Despite the short falls in numbers and capabilities here and there I have to agree.

It is nice to see a capability improvement after so many cuts. Saw both QE and PoW along side over the New Year. Viewed from under the Bowsprit of HMS Victory they made quite a sight.

Cheers CR

Nicholas
Nicholas
3 months ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Cummings wants rid of at least one of the carriers.

Helions
Helions
3 months ago

Another major milestone! The first deployment for the QE is drawing ever closer. I’m really looking forward to seeing her and her escorts in sunny tropical places such as Sydney Harbor and Sambawang (when was the last time an RN CSG visited either?). I’ve got doubts whether China would allow a Hong Kong portcall but Yokosuka Japan seems a sure thing, Cape Town, Gibraltar ( lets see a Spanish ship try to block THAT one), Pearl Harbor… Can you imagine them showing up at Port Stanley? Yep! Going to be epic.

Cheers!

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
3 months ago
Reply to  Helions

Gib’s already been done, of course. Like your tongue in cheek doubts’ over Hong Kong, though.

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago
Reply to  Helions

I would not rule out a Hong Kong visit, never underestimate china’s ability to play the UK government or our governments need to smarm up to Chinese money ( I’m sure we have more nuclear power stations that need building).

julian1
julian1
3 months ago

do we know how many aircraft deployed with 617? is it a full squadron deployment or elements of? the photos indicate a small number of aircraft. at some point we need to scale from 4 f35bs to 24 over the next year and eventually to 36 to show it is feasible

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago
Reply to  julian1

I believe it’s 12 planes with 617.

Bill
Bill
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

They did not all deploy on QE. 2 all British sqds would be great. 3 and we’re in fantasy land!

Steve R
Steve R
3 months ago
Reply to  Bill

I read that wrong sorry! I thought it said how many planes 617 had, not how many they’d deployed to the carrier. My bad!

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
3 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

There will be 8 on this trip. But it’s a little unclear how many 617 has at the moment. The UK owns 18 F-35B. 3 are test aircraft and will only leave the US to become museum pieces in the UK at the end of their service. There is another in the US that has yet to fly over to the UK. That leaves 14 F-35B in the UK. Several accounts from people who know say that the bulk of the effort is in 207 sqn in training up pilots and ground crew. It might be that of the 8… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  julian1

I doubt any adversary seriously questions the potential to deploy with 36 F35B from a purely operational perspective. Its a large ship, there’s no inherent bottlenecks that would stop a practical deployment at that number. Only how much work you want to do maintaining the RAM coatings on the F35Bs that cannot be hangered. What might be a more politically interesting demonstration down the road would be an exercise at some point off the US with say 2x UK and 2x, or even 3x, US squadrons. Again it wouldn’t be anything new from a theoretical perspective but it would send… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago

Your point raises a question: How many aircraft can the QEs fit in their hangars? I read that they max out at ~70 aircraft, fixed and rotary wing combined (as you ay, the same as a USN CVW). I assumed that to achieve this they could get at least 36 on the hangar decks rather than topside- is that not the case?

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

Actually Kyd’s statement was that the QE could carry more than 70 F35Bs. I assume in making that statement he was still accounting for Merlin’s on board as well. But its credible given the huge deck size. Its probably not optimal though from a STOVL carrier operations perspective.

I haven’t seen a definitive source on hanger capacity but 20-24 F35B has been suggested. You might pack a few more in but then moving aircraft around would seem to be a problem. One disadvantage here is that F35B doesn’t have folding wings.

Joe16
Joe16
3 months ago

For sure, there’s always the balance between keeping them on board and actually being able to launch and recover practically! I can’t see a situation where we’d want to be carrrying more strike aircraft than a USN CSG, that just doesn’t make sense to me unless we were taking them somewhere in order to offboard them to another base or somesuch. I’d hope that hangar capacity would be up around 36, but disappointed if it’s less than 24. It is a bit of a surprise about the lack of folding wing, is that a consequence of having to strengthen for… Read more »

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
3 months ago
Reply to  Joe16

I agree that anything close to 70 F35B is very unlikely to ever be deployed and if it were it would also be in the context of maxed out USN carriers. But USN carrier air wings seem to have been shrinking, due to the far better capability of both aircraft and weapons, being able to achieve greater effect with fewer aircraft than of old. Hence not likely to see max numbers for UK carriers either, even as a photo op. For some context a standard USN carrier wing by 2030 will be 75 organic aircraft with 44 strike: 2x sqdn.… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
3 months ago

What is really amazing is the cross working between the RN and RAF. Once you have AAC assets deployed the Elizabeth’s will really become a tri service effort.

Then you add in the fact that they will also be able to act as a home to deployed US Marine Squadrons and even go from a carrier to an amphibious asset. it’s all very mind blowing in complexity and achievement.

Hopefully this usefulness to all services and our closest ally will keep these ships safe and secure from budget cuts.

geoff
geoff
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Agree Jonathon. The conflicting requirements almost breaking into ‘open warfare’ between the two services in the sixties caused huge problems in procurement programmes and design issues then resulting in some awkward compromises and contributing towards the cancellation of promising aircraft. Issues with the Phantom, Buccaneer and Supersonic Harrier in particular come to mind. Cynics of RN/RAF co-operation nowadays might cite the fact that they are thankful for any aircraft they can get in these times never mind those specifically tailored to each Services needs

geoff
geoff
3 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Also, true to form, the Mail Online reported the story headlined above as “Operational British F35 Jets land for first time on HMS QE” with the banner “F35 jets land on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time!” I suppose it’s a punchier headline by leaving out OPERATIONAL BRITISH.. and of course saves print and space! 🙂

Graham M
Graham M
3 months ago

Just when, if ever, is the FAA going to deploy with an RN squadron of our own? The FAA has it’s own fantastic history and should not be reliant on 617 to (save) us – again! Bring back 800, 0r 899.