F-35 Lightning aircraft lands onboard HMS Prince of Wales
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F-35 Lightning aircraft lands onboard HMS Prince of Wales

10 Jun 2021 (Last Updated June 10th, 2021 11:49)

This marks the first time Stealth fighter F-35 Lightning has landed onboard HMS Prince of Wales.

The F-35 Lightning Stealth fighter has landed onboard the Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, for the first time.

The aircraft touched down on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales off the south coast of England.

HMS Prince of Wales manoeuvered into position to accept the aircraft.

The milestone is a part of ongoing sea acceptance trials being conducted off the south coast of England as the 65,000t-class carrier is advanced towards achieving complete operational capability.

Prince of Wales commanding officer Captain Darren Houston oversaw both the maiden landing and take-off.

This is the first time a fixed-wing aircraft has landed onboard HMS Prince of Wales.

The trials test the ship’s capability to receive and launch aircraft whilst maintaining continuous air operations.

Designed to operate alongside RAF Typhoon aircraft, the F-35B Lightning is jointly operated by the Royal Navy and RAF.

The F-35B Lightning is part of a key role within the UK’s Carrier Strike capability, operating already from HMS Queen Elizabeth.

For the first time, it will be operating overseas as part of the Carrier Strike Group 21 deployment.

HMS Prince of Wales Commanding Officer Captain Darren Houston said: “This prodigious achievement on the deck of HMS Prince of Wales is a significant milestone in the Royal Navy’s re-birth of Carrier Strike Group operations. It is a tangible reflection of the enormous collective effort from the aircraft carrier enterprise to deliver the Royal Navy’s second aircraft carrier.

“I am particularly proud of the contribution made by my ship’s company in developing this world leading, sovereign capability, and we look forward in earnest to rapidly growing our experience operating the F-35B through further trials and training later this year.”

HMS Prince of Wales has a flight deck big enough to accommodate three football pitches and can receive up to 36 F-35B aircraft.

It carries a crew of around 1,600 personnel when aircraft are onboard.