Royal Navy, August 20, 2018 - Royal Navy aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has departed her home port of Portsmouth, bound for the USA to land fast jets on deck for the very first time.
Eight years since a British aircraft carrier last flew a fast jet from her decks, the 65,000-tonne carrier will embark two F-35B 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 their 11-week period at sea.
Four F‑35B Lightning developmental test pilots, who are members of the ITF, will embark to fly the aircraft; three British, one American. The British personnel comprise a Royal Navy Commander, a Squadron Leader from the Royal Air Force and one civilian test pilot. They will be joined by a Major from the US Marine Corps.
The ship will conduct trials in UK waters over the coming days, before departing for the USA later this month.
She will be joined by RFA Tiderace and Plymouth-based type-23 frigate HMS Monmouth, as well as Merlin Mk2 helicopters from 820 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Culdrose, Mk 4 Merlins from 845 Naval Air Squadron, RNAS Yeovilton and a contingent of Royal Marines from 42 Commando, Plymouth for amphibious insertion training and deck quals.