WATCH: HMS Queen Elizabeth, how will she be used?


What is HMS Queen Elizabeth going to be used for? How will she work? Let’s find out.

Merlin helicopters will be the first aircraft to begin flying from HMS Queen Elizabeth, soon followed by Apache, Wildcat, Chinook and F-35.

The information comes from a senior official said at the Farnborough air show.

The Queen Elizabeth is due to start sea trials next year before its first deployment in 2021, followed by its sister ship, the Prince of Wales.

It was stated that the Merlins will start simple flight activities in March 2017 and then first-class flight trials begin in early 2018.

It has been reported that all Merlins will also be modified to carry the Crowsnest airborne early warning and control radar although a contract has yet to be finalised.

Former First Sea Lord George Zambellas said:

“When the first of our new carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth, deploys on her first mission in a few years, with fifth generation fighters and drones embarked, she will scotch at a stroke any talk of Britain’s retreat from the world.”

Tabloids often like to quote 12 as the maximum number of F-35B’s the carrier will be able to carry (despite the intention to purchase 138 in the long term), however this, as you probably know, is nonsense. The carriers, in peacetime, will usually deploy with 12 F-35B’s as a minimum and a number of various helicopters. To reduce costs and free aircraft for other commitments, the maximum aircraft complement will not usually be carried in peacetime, it instead will be supplied as required or deployed to the vessels in the event of a crisis. Rather than funding a large and permanent Carrier Air Group, the relatively new concept of a Tailored Air Group rather than fixed Carrier Air Group will be adopted for the Queen Elizabeth class with the exact types and numbers of aircraft embarked being adjusted to meet current requirements and threats.

The Queen Elizabeth class mark a change from expressing carrier power in terms of number of aircraft carried, to the number of sortie’s that can be generated from the deck. The class are not the largest class of carrier in the world but they are most likely the smallest and least expensive carrier the Royal Navy could build which still have the advantages that large carriers offer.

Crew are currently moving aboard the supercarrier, sea trials begin in the New Year and the vessel moves to Portsmouth in Spring 2017.


0 0 vote
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

In every article you write about QE you copy and paste these same words: “Tabloids often like to quote 12 as the maximum number of F-35B’s the carrier will be able to carry (despite the intention to purchase 138 in the long term), however this, as you probably know, is nonsense” This is simply not true. What the tabloids repeat over and over again is the same question: why build huge carriers that can accommodate 40 jets and yet routinely deploy with 12 (which is the MoD plan). The tabloids are right to keep pounding away at this point because… Read more »

Jack Barker

Nonsense. It makes perfect sense to have a flexible platform that is able to fulfil multiple roles. In fact it is very prudent considering the uncertain modern world. What would make less sense is procuring a very specialist ship that can only be used for one thing.
To use your analogy, it’s more like a farmer having a Land Rover, sometimes he may use it to drive to the shops, other times he may need it for driving on a waterlogged field. Having contingency for many roles is eminently sensible.


Calling the current published operational plans for the these carriers stupid is ridiculous nonsense. You have clearly not read or understand their raison d’etre. They never were intended to solely operate only as large air wing carriers. The key to their design is flexibility and versatility. They are built with the ability to quickly adapt and operate in various different roles depending on the then current circumstances. These roles can be anything from carrying a large 30 or 40+ F35B air wing to a helicopter assault ship, with a far greater capacity than HMS Ocean, to a large disaster relief… Read more »

Jake Cornier

Luke Cornier Daniel Wyeth Josh Cole Luke Harris


Doesn’t really matter how many fighter’s on board. Any potential enemy knows that one carrier is in refit leaving only one, so they will go all out to sink it using swarm attacks or just sink it in a harbour. The RN has been put badly out of balance by this ridiculous status symbol. The Japanese were supposed to be impressed by the last Prince of Wales, they just sank it.

John Stevens

I think the carrier looks great !!! super multi-purpose ship… cheer up chaps, try to be a bit more optimistic.

John Stevens

Just to add to my above comments: The plan is to have 60 F35’s in the future on active duty plus 12 OCU aircraft. So if there was the need they could do a surge of aircraft for operations, or they could carry out helicopter operations with attack helicopters and up to 900 marines.

John Stevens

correction 48 F35’s plus 12 ocu *