Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Portsmouth today following the completion of initial fast jet trials in America.
The 65,000-ton carrier’s first transatlantic deployment, which began in August, saw her embark two F-35B Lightning II test aircraft, from the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. She also conducted a week-long visit to New York.
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During the development trials, the jets conducted 202 takeoffs from the ship’s ski ramp, 187 vertical landings, and 15 shipborne vertical landings (SRVL) —a landing technique unique to the UK. They also dropped 54 inert bombs, testing the weight loading in a variety of weather conditions and sea states. The operating envelopes will be further expanded during operational trials, scheduled for next year.
“HMS Queen Elizabeth’s inaugural deployment to the US has not only marked the return of the Royal Navy’s carrier strike capabilities, but also strengthened our special relationship with US forces… this ship will serve the United Kingdom for generations to come, keeping the nation safe and supporting our allies as we navigate increasing threats,” Gavin Williamson, Defence Secretary, commented.
Having assumed Command from Rear Admiral Jerry Kyd in New York, Captain Nick Cooke Priest summed up the deployment, saying:
“The WESTLANT 18 deployment has been a real success; and let’s not forget that we are just a year on from the ship being commissioned and accepted into service. The main effort – Fixed Wing Flying trials have delivered outstanding results, which is testament to the co-operation, hard work and dedication of both the ship’s company and the US Integrated Test Force, assisted by the US Navy and US Marine Corps. Their combined efforts have put us in an excellent starting position for next year’s Operational Testing,” Captain Nick Cooke Priest said, having assumed Command from Rear Admiral Jerry Kyd in New York.
The ‘WESTLANT 18’ Task Group comprised HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Monmouth, RFA Tidespring and aircraft from 820, 845 and 814 Naval Air Squadrons, as well as Royal Marines from 42 Commando and supporting units from the US Navy and US Marine Corps.
HMS Queen Elizabeth will remain in Portsmouth during the early part of 2019 undergoing maintenance.