First fighter jets land onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth

The first of the UK F-35 Lightning jets have been photographed taking off and hovering onboard Britain’s next generation aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time.

The Lightning jets are embarking in the 65,000 tonne carrier to conduct operational trials off the East Coast of the USA, following successful developmental trials last year with US Lightning jets, where forces conducted 500 take offs and landings over their 11-week period at sea.

These trials are aimed at ‘end-to-end’ testing of the aircraft and personnel to ensure the aircraft are compatible with the carrier. This involve mission planning, arming the aircraft using the ship’s Highly Automated Weapon Handling System, flying missions and debriefing on completion.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is another step towards the UK’s carrier strike capability becoming fully operational. The bringing together of the UK Lightnings on the first in class HMS Queen Elizabeth paves the way for the world’s most up to date, fully integrated carrier force.”


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