Westlant 18

Britain's new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is deployed to the east coast of the United States for her maiden F-35 Lightning flying trials. Joined by her task group, including HMS Monmouth, it marks the first time F-35 stealth jets have flown from the carrier's flight deck. As well as the vital deck trials, the deployment also involves exercises to prove the ship's ability to operate with other nations’ ships and aircraft.

The 65,000-tonne carrier will embark two F-35 test aircraft, from the Integrated Test Force (ITF), based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.

Around 200 supporting staff, including pilots, engineers, maintainers and data analysts will be joined by two 'orange wired' test aircraft, belonging to the ITF, which are expected to conduct 500 take offs and landings during the trials. 

The aim of these initial, or ‘developmental’ trials are to ascertain, through the specially equipped aircraft and sensors around the ship, the operating parameters of the aircraft and ship, in a range of conditions. Similar successful trials were conducted by HMS Queen Elizabeth at sea earlier this year for Rotary Wing aircraft.

What we are doing

Conducting deck trials and maritime exercises.

Why we are there

To carry out trials with the F-35 Lightning and to prove the ability to operate with other nations.

As a critical step towards delivering the UK’s new Carrier Strike Group, this deployment demonstrates the astonishing collaborative effort that will enable the new F-35 jets to fly routinely from our Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers.

Commodore Andrew Betton

International partnerships

As the fifth largest economy in the world, the UK has responsibilities towards its allies and partners. But Britain also has global ambitions – namely to protect the seaways underpinning the country’s prosperity. The Royal Navy plays a crucial role in fostering these enduring and lasting alliances with other nations.

Ready to fight

When diplomacy fails, the UK has to be ready to protect its interests and its allies. What’s more, as a member of NATO and the UN, the UK also acts to support the enforcement of UN resolutions and come to the aid of our allies. This is where the Royal Marines come in: we train to go where we’re needed – by sea, land or air – and deploy our forces with the aim of restoring peace.

Location USA

HMS Queen Elizabeth

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845 Naval Air Squadron

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42 Commando

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820 Naval Air Squadron

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HMS Monmouth (F235)

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