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Britain’s F-35B stealth fighters are set to achieve initial operating capability at the end of this year. But that is only from land bases, with nine aircraft. It will be another two years before No. 617 Squadron can fly operationally from the first of the country’s two new QEII-class aircraft carriers.
HMS Queen Elizabeth is due to set sail from Portsmouth naval base in the fall for the eastern seaboard of the U.S. There, two American F-35Bs flown by British test pilots will embark for the first time. They will do at-sea takeoffs from the carrier’s ski-jump for the first time. They will also continue development of the shipboard rolling vertical landing technique that they have been developing, to ensure that an F-35B can return to the carrier deck with unused weapons.
Phase - Trials - QEII - British-owned - F-35Bs
A second phase of flying trials on the QEII will follow in 2019, using the British-owned and based F-35Bs with squadron pilots.
But it now seems that the first F-35Bs to fly operationally from the British carriers will be American. The UK has extensively relied on the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) for working-up, with its first two squadrons being formed and operated from the F-35B base at MCAS Beaufort before transfer to the UK.
Gen - Jon - Dog - Davis - Head
Gen. Jon "Dog” Davis, until recently the head of USMC aviation, said last year that the QEIIs are “incredible ships.” USMC F-35Bs will take part in the QEII’s first operational deployment in 2021.
Meanwhile, the second QEII-class carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, is afloat and being fitted out at Rosyth dockyard in Scotland. It is due to go to sea next year, after being handed over by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance that built her and her predecessor (comprising BAE Systems, Babcock, and Thales, in cooperation with the UK Ministry of Defence [MoD]).
Cost - Warships
The huge cost of these new warships is...
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