The Royal Navy’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is currently conducting an anti-submarine exercise with a Norwegian frigate in the Western Atlantic.
The NATO/anti-submarine warfare training with the Norwegian Navy’s newest frigate HNoMS Thor Heyerdahl, Type 23-class frigate HMS Northumberland and Tide-class replenishment tanker RFA Tideforce is the last act of a busy three months away for the Portsmouth-based carrier which hosted British F-35 Lightning jets for the first time at sea – followed by US Marine Corps doing the same.
The future flagship embarked three UK jets from 17 Test and Evaluation Squadron (TES) based at Edwards Air Force Base in California, as well as three which crossed the Atlantic from RAF Marham.
The 5-week operational test phase, headed up by the Air Warfare Centre, was designed to provide ‘end-to-end’ testing of the jets and the combined Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel who operate and support the squadrons.
“This has been an extremely successful deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth. It’s all been about increasing the complexity and tempo of our activity, building the capability of the strike group and testing ourselves in a demanding training environment with our close partners from the US Navy and Marine Corps,” Commanding Officer of HMS Queen Elizabeth, Cdre Steve Moorhouse said.
“Embarking UK F-35B Lightning for the first time and integrating them within the carrier strike group is a significant milestone and we are well set for an equally demanding 2020 and our first operational deployment in 2021,” he added.
HMS Queen Elizabeth also conducted warm weather trials on her propulsion systems and expanded the operating envelope of her aircraft in warmer temperatures. Her final task was to provide a spectacular venue for the second joint UK-US Atlantic Future Forum and Defence Trade Expo whilst at anchor off Annapolis.