F-35B pilots increase training ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth debut

24 August 2018 (Last Updated August 24th, 2018 14:33)

Four F-35B Lightning II pilots have increased landing and take-off training ahead of maiden trials on the UK Royal Navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

F-35B pilots increase training ahead of HMS Queen Elizabeth debut
An F-35B jet takes off from a replica ski jump. Credit: Connie Hempel.

Four F-35B Lightning II pilots have increased landing and take-off training ahead of maiden trials on the UK Royal Navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The four pilots include Peter Wilson from BAE System, Royal Navy commander Nathan Gray, Royal Air Force (RAF) squadron leader Andy Edgell and a US Marine Corps (USMC) aviator.

As part of the training, ex-Fleet Air Arm pilot Peter Wilson took off from a replica ski jump in an F-35B fighter jet.

During the training that is due to be conducted in the US, the pilots will carry out a total of 500 landings and take-offs on the 900ft-long deck of the new 65,000t aircraft carrier.

“Sensors and recorders will enable the team to evaluate the capability of the fifth-generation combat aircraft in conducting operations in different conditions while carrying various payloads.”

Approximately 200 engineers and experts from the F-35 Integrated Test Force based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, US, will go on board HMS Queen Elizabeth with a range of sensors and data recorders.

Sensors and recorders will enable the team to evaluate the capability of the fifth-generation combat aircraft in conducting operations in different weather conditions and sea states while carrying various payloads.

The exercise will involve the participation of two specially-upgraded F-35B jets, which will be used to carry out trials on board the navy vessel in two phases later this year.

The first deck landing of the aircraft on HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to take place at the end of September.

The F-35B Lightning II is the short take-off / vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin-built combat aircraft.

Claimed to be the world’s first supersonic STOVL stealth aircraft, the fighter jet has been designed to effectively operate from challenging bases and a number of air-capable ships near front-line combat zones.