F-35Bs Land On HMS Queen Elizabeth For First Time

General, HMS Queen Elizabeth
14 October 2019

On Sunday 13th October UK F-35 Lightning fighter jets landed on HMS Queen Elizabeth, Britain's largest warship and RNRMC affiliate ship, for the first time as part of the Westlant 19 Carrier Strike Group deployment, off the east coast of the United States.

The tests are designed to ensure the aircraft can work effectively with HMS Queen Elizabeth, and involve arming the aircraft with the vessel’s Highly Automated Weapon Handling System.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the event brought the forces another step closer to a "fully operational" UK carrier strike capability.

"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," he said.

When the Carrier Strike Group becomes fully operational, Queen Elizabeth will be escorted by Type 45 destroyer HMS Dragon, submarine hunter HMS Northumberland and tanker RFA Tideforce.

Merlin and Wildcat helicopters will also join, operated by the Navy and Royal Marine Commandos.

The first pilot to land on board was Wing Commander Adam Curd, Royal Air Force, who had not landed on an aircraft carrier before.

"This is a proud moment not only for me, but the wider team that has brought us to this milestone for maritime aviation and UK defence."

The UK is expected to declare Initial Operating Capability for Carrier Strike by the end of 2020. To view all photos click here.

Filmed by LPhot Daniel Shepherd.