Video shows HMS Queen Elizabeth conducting a gunnery exercise.

HMS Queen Elizabeth recently returned to UK waters last month following completion of Merlin and Chinook flying trials and this revised strategy has eliminated the need for separate trials, ensuring the time available on deck was used to maximum effect and avoiding a second voyage out to sea later in the year.

The initiative will ultimately expedite the release of the carrier into service, say Qinetiq.

The trials, conducted by QinetiQ and the Air Warfare Centre under the Air Test & Evaluation Centre (ATEC) partnership, brought the two aircraft together on deck for the first time as part of a cost-saving initiative negotiated between QinetiQ and the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD). The Merlin trial was originally contracted in April 2016, with Chinook added to the existing agreement at the end of 2017 under a new contract amendment.

Chinook flight trials on HMS Queen Elizabeth
John Anderson, Managing Director Air & Space, QinetiQ, said:

“We are proud to contribute to the Royal Navy’s carrier programme, which forms such a vital part of the UK’s defence capability. These deck trials have been among the biggest ever conducted, and mark an important step towards enabling the carrier’s rotary wing capability, ahead of the F-35 trials planned later in 2018.

Combining the trials delivers on our strategy to help customers make best use of their available funding when conducting mission-critical test and evaluation work.”

Prior to the trials, QinetiQ at MOD Boscombe Down designed and installed flight instrumentation for two Merlin Mk 2 and two Chinook Mk 5 helicopters and delivered pre-trial simulator training to their test pilots. The aircraft then deployed to HMS Queen Elizabeth in the Atlantic and, over a period of four weeks, conducted landings at different weights and in varying conditions, including in the dark using night vision. The ATEC team undertook data analysis and reporting to establish each aircraft’s safe operating limits.

The work continues a three-year programme that includes assuring flight operations for the new Tide Class Tankers and Off Shore Patrol Vessels, and will ultimately provide rotary wing aircraft clearances for the life of the new aircraft carriers.


  1. Great video. Loved the mini gun clips.
    I guess now Ocean has been decommissioned QE will be getting Oceans X3 phalanxes as well as her 20mm+ 30mm guns.
    Got to love the MOD cost cutting. They launch a £3.5 billion carrier with no point defence SAM no CIWS or even light guns until another ship had been taken out of service.

    • But it is not operational yet, why would they put any of that stuff on until she is? W.r.t. SAM, that I do not understand either.

          • Type 45’s can’t even defend themselves from the rear. Every modern RN ship is underarmed. Every recent govt has placed saving money above saving lives.

        • Marc, who has the capability to attack a 60,000 tonne warship?? 3 countries in the world, one of whom is a key ally, the other 2 would never dare! besides dear boy, the main defence is yet to deployed, aircraft; alongside 45’s and Subs in attendance. The QE and PrOW, will rust and be sold for scrap before any danger comes to them.

          Never forget, supposed RN weakness is deliberate and government led. In times of conflict or crisis the RN is easily the 2nd best Blue Water Navy on the globe. Nowhere near the 2nd largest, but do you see Indian, Japanese or Chinese navies operating in the Caribbean or near Suez, or the Southern Med, or South Atlantic. (not forgetting HM Ships are the best led, USN Commanders are renowned to be good educationally but utter tripe leaders/ship fighters; in training US Commanders have been utterly defeated by UK Destroyers and Subs, held at inexplicable range by the RN and in conflict would have been destroyed.

          The UK is no longer a super power, that ended in about 1941, but the RN, along with RM, RAF, Army Regiments and Special Forces remain Elite on the globe, and all our present / future enemies know it.

          Let’s Stop comparing to the USN. They are huge but in essence useless compared to their weight. The RN is a powerful if medium sized force; but clever, with weaponry like Tomahawk, that opponents just don’t have. That is where the difference lies, The Uk doesn’t possess huge number of rusting hulks, but it does rely on expensive superior tech and weaponry.

          Name any country between 20m and 120m population, with a more robust far-reaching navy.!?

      • Not really when every single other aircraft carrier in the world has point defense missiles yet apparently the government in its infinite wisdom decided not to arm it with anyway.

        But hey, If it’s ever sunk ‘lessons learned’ right? Not like we learned the lesson that ships are vulnerable beyond belief to missiles in the Falklands or anything.

        • We also learnt the fitting Seadart to CVS and Sea Cat to Hermes was a waste of time and space. Hence Dart was removed and valuable extra space for aircraft equipment Accom and spares was freed up.
          We lost more ships to bombs than missiles.

          • You where talking about missiles not jets hence my comment
            Anyway RN missiles accounted for very few jets …it was mostly CAP Harriers and sidewinder that took down the aircraft.
            Dart accounted for a few including a fat dumb slow Herc which was taken instead of a fast mover.
            Sea Wolf did OK with 3 or 4 kills but the T22s spent a lot of the time goalkeeping HVUs and not going up against attacking aircraft.
            Sea Cat I don’t think hit anything but might have forced a plane to crash doing avoidance manoeuvres.
            Sea Slug…killed some sheep in a field.
            No RN warship had CIWS down south.
            The only CRW guns where 20 and 40mm guns mostly of WW2 vintage and machine guns.
            Post Falklands the issues with missiles came to the fore and especially that they could be jammed, spoofed and countered by specific flight profiles. So we fitted more 20mm 30mm cannons, CIWS and extra small arms to ships and not more missiles.
            When we returned back down there 10 months later for the first anniversary my ship had extra guns, the sea wolf system had been upgraded had been live fire tested against exocet and the lessons learnt implemented in everything we did. We where a different navy from less than a year earlier.

          • The other point you need to remember is that the Falklands War introduced the first proper missile versus missile war. Unfortunately the majority of the ships the Navy deployed, T42s included, were not designed to counter a sea skimming missile. The reason for this is that computer technology that was required for signal processing was still in its infancy. The signal processing that is required to detect a threat amongst the seas background clutter is immense – Remember this was the ZX Spectrum era, so computer by today’s standards were archaic. The Type 22s armed with the new Seawolf system was designed to counter low flying threats had to rely on optical cameras as back up for targeting “sea skimming” missiles due to to the limited computer signal processing capability.
            A Type 23 armed with SeaCeptor and using the Artisan radar is a magnitude more capable than the earlier Type 23s let alone the 22s and 42s. This is because the signal processing has now matured making the radar much more effective at detecting very low flying missiles being camouflaged by the wave clutter. It is designed to see threats when operating in a littoral environment when the threat is hiding among hills etc.
            The extended range of the SeaCeptor over Seawolf VL is quite substantial and should no longer be viewed as a point defence missile system, but a local area system. If this system was available during the Falklands War, I believe the outcome would have been significantly different in the number of ships we lost but also the number of Argentinian aircraft shot down!

          • Davey B…sorry mate but you do not know what you are talking about.
            The computers in use on most of the more modern warships down south where FM1600 series.Ok they where not modern by today’s standards, You inputted the ops program on Mylar paper tape but they where fast and processed the info in real time even if they did use feritte core stores.
            Signal processing was fine. R967 was a doppler radar and depending on the settings in the speed filters picked up anything and everything with a doppler on it. We regularly had tracks indications on 20 and 30mm shells during gunnery exercises, we shot down 4.5 inch shells, we hit low level height keeper rushton targets, we shot down an Exocet in a trial off wales. So the signal processing was fine.
            R910 sometimes had issues at low level with multipath effects, but not always. Thats nothing to do with signal processing , thats to do with physics and radar frequencies at low level tracking…This was overcome by auto TV guidance backed up by manual guidance if required. On later 911 trackers a modified rapier Blindfire radar in K band was used (RadarB) overcome multipath effects.

            Artisan is better than 996 which in turn was better than 967/968 . SeaCeptor has a longer range but it has yet to be proved in the way Seawolf was.
            By the way don’t believe everything in Wiki …

  2. Gunbuster, who has experience of these matters, has already explained several times the fitting of SAM to the carrier is not necessary and comes with its own issues.

    This has been commented on dozens of times already by others, including myself, with no experience of these matters whatsoever.

    Time to move on. No Sea Ceptor for the QEC. Just CIWS and escorts.

    • Yes. This is why Type 31 is so important, to make sure Type 45 and Type 26 are always available to escort the carriers.

    • Very odd deployment of the PLANs from the Satellite photo. It looks more like a parade than an active protection screen. Perhaps this was deliberate as the satellite that took the picture would have been known about.

  3. Even the RN will have sufficient escorts for its most valuable asset. Two T45’s one T23 and a T boat or Astute. If the QE is reduced to firing off its gimpys or whatever she is already dead in the water! Having said that the US carriers and even the CDG carry a swathe of self defence systems ‘just in case’. We can never be accused of over arming our vessels that’s for sure!

  4. Everyone please the best anti-missile, air, surface ship or submarine threat they will face will be provided by her F35’s and Merlins. Every penny and every second should be devoted to getting as many of them operational on her as soon as poss.

  5. No 50 cal though on the video.
    50s are now being added as standard on most RN vessels so now you can not only chop them up with a mini gun doing 3000 rounds a min of 7.62 but also blow holes in them with 1/2 inch HEIT.

    Gunnery is Funnery
    A day without gunnery is a day wasted…

  6. Things to put on a flat top:
    1) meduim guns, carriers always had meduim guns, we could bolt on loads of 5inch guns.
    2) Mk41 launchers, the Russians put tons of heavy anti ship missiles on their flat tops, let’s go large.
    3) A well deck+vehicle deck and tons of Mexeflote
    4) Armour belt

    Not sure how many aircraft we can fit in afterwards but Haho I’m sure someone mentioned we don’t have any anyway.

    • Don’t forget the nuclear reactors (always best to have more than one), cats and traps, and it should carry at least two Nimrod as well (preferably have those nuclear powered too).

  7. If we ripped up the flight deck we could easily get 8 x 15″ guns in four turrets, plus a dozen turrets of 5″ guns, then we could use the hangar deck for a hydroponics bay and grow our food on board and use bio-diesel from plants to be truly self-sustaining?

  8. Why is it necessary for that ominous, boringly repetitious, electronic music track? Is it meant to impress? It’s a hunk of metal. It’s not alive. It will be scrapped one day … or flogged!

  9. Why is it necessary for that ominous, boringly repetitious, electronic music track? Is it meant to impress? Why is the little sailor putting his clothes on in slow motion? It’s a hunk of metal. It’s not alive. It will be scrapped one day … or flogged! And they’re only wee guns too! An tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh has bigger guns on its patrol boats!

    • I do hope you are enjoying yourself. I saw the comment and thought that it was ridiculous, and then I saw the name of the person who wrote it. It all makes sense now.

  10. Just a CIWS & small arms mgs is recklessly weak armament. Yes in an ideal world you’d always have plenty of warship escorts(RN is short of these though), same with F-35s & Merlins, BUT in a real war it often works out differently. Attrition can soon deplete strike aircraft & escorts. That is why carriers of this size, cost & purpose have more than the RN currently plan to install, eventually. USN Carriers have medium range ESSM + RAM+ CIWS, the CIWS being a last ditch defence. Accountants & politicians will argue until they’re blue in the face that we can get away with just CIWS & below, but that’s just criminal irresponsability & reckless endangerment of1,000+ lives & a huge investment.
    Was it HMS Glorious or Courageous in WW2 that found itself with just 2 destroyer escorts & a small compliment of aircraft that it couldn’t launch anyway when 2 German battlecruisers turned up & sunk them all?
    I’d argue that we need a medium range SAM, a close range SAM or AA guns (such as 5″ or 76mm OTO or Dardo) in addition to what is already planned. That IMO would be adequate, not generous. What is planned might stop an odd ASM or light air attack or a swarm of small boats, but anything different & the QEs will be near sitting ducks.

  11. The Italian Cavour A/C has 4 x 8 cell A-43Aster 15 SAM. The USS Gerald R. Ford apart from its Battle Group there to protect her she also has 2 x RIM-162 ESSM, 2 x RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile, 4 x Phalanx CIWS and 4 x .50 Browning machine guns plus an undisclosed number of Mini Guns.

  12. I don’t know any where near as much about modern misses and ships. I love the forces and every of them. I’m perfectly willing to accept how good the t45 and aster is. Why though does every other carrier in the world carry local or medium defence systems? I’m not taking sides I just don’t get that. It’s a separate question but the Arliegh Burke seems to carry so muck more hardware.
    Are we sure we aren’t skimping on our carrier group because we are skint?

  13. “Is that all u got Lizzie, frighten me some more.” Its an embarrassment the Vidio showing “Gunnery exercise” , features on a 50.000 ton warship a couple of machine guns , What absolute baloney, as other posts state RN warships have always been behind the game in armament, and it seems still is
    Where are the Brains in the MOD , under their posterior I would imagine

    • what frighten’s me Peter is you can’t spell Video!?!? You are utterly wrong with regard to RN Gunnery, ‘have always been behind the game in armament” WHAT?????? the RN throughout history has been known for gunnery, and not just that, the rate of fire. US Navy at half the rate of RN across history!

      Aircraft Carriers don’t have long range weaponry, never have, that is left to the Frigates and Destroyers. Ask any former foe of the “MOD” what they felt by RN Gunnery, and they would say destroyed.

      Please dear sir, spend a day on Lizzie, you try and fire some machine guns, no doubt take your shoulder off, a keyboard warrior like you needs some military beasting, and please don’t comment on what your ignorance tells you. When did the RN last lose a battle??? Learn, learn, learn, grow up and educate yourself.


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