The first RAF F-35B Lightnings landed aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth on October 13. This follows successful developmental trials last year with US Lightning jets, which conducted 500 take offs and landings over an 11-week period at sea.
These new trials are aimed at ‘end-to-end’ testing of the aircraft and personnel to ensure the aircraft are compatible with the carrier. The tests involve mission planning, arming the aircraft using the ship’s Highly Automated Weapon Handling System, flying missions and debriefing on completion.
The landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth are part of the ‘WESTLANT 19’ Carrier Strike Group deployment. During this time, the aircraft carrier will be escorted by Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, submarine hunter HMS Northumberland, tanker RFA Tideforce and Merlins from 814, 820 and 845 Naval Air Squadrons, Wildcats from 815 Sqn and Royal Marines from Lima Company, 42 Commando.