HMS Queen Elizabeth is the biggest ship ever constructed for the Royal Navy, Westlant puts this formidable warship and her embarked F-35 fighter jets through their paces on the USA Eastern Seaboard.

Along with HMS Dragon and HMS Northumberland, these ships form the Carrier Strike Group. Supported by RFA Tideforce they will also be joined by units from the United States Navy, US Air Force and US Marine Corps.

Royal Marines from Lima Company 42 Commando and Fleet Air Arm assets are also embarked and include Merlin helicopters and Wildcats from Culdrose-based 814 and Yeovilton-based 815 Naval Air Squadrons and HMS Queen Elizabeth's own 820 Naval Air Squadron. Commando Helicopter Force's 845 NAS are also embarked in their role as the wings of the Royal Marines.

On top of that, a Role 2 Medical Team Afloat, RAF airmen and British Army soldiers will also be on board.

1.6 mach

F-35 top speed

65,000 tonnes

Total displacement of HMS Queen Elizabeth


Shipborne Rolling Vertical Landing unique technique used by the Royal Navy

280 metres

Deck length of HMS Queen Elizabeth

Westlant 19

The aim of Westlant is simple: to push both the F-35 and HMS Queen Elizabeth to their limits. Having gathered the data and experiences required to 'write the manual' for safely operating the F-35, the focus of Westlant now shifts to developing combat techniques for exploiting the fighter's awesome capabilities in action and working as part of a carrier task group.

As well as testing the capability of HMS Queen Elizabeth and the F-35, Westlant is an excellent opportunity to strengthen ties with one of our most important allies: the United States. Westlant allows the Royal Navy to bring together the aircraft with a whole carrier task group to deliver a truly potent force.

No words can explain how it felt to turn the corner at 500mph and see HMS Queen Elizabeth awaiting the arrival of her first F-35 jets. I feel incredibly privileged.

Commander Nathan Gray
Experimental Test Pilot, Joint Strike Fighter Program