F-35 aircraft

The UK Royal Navy handlers and engineers have tested the remote controlled Electric Shipboard Handler (Aircraft) kit designed to move the 23t F35B Lightning II safely on to the ships, HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales.

Carried out at Pax River, US Naval Air Station Patuxent River, near Washington DC, the trials were conducted without the need to flash up its engine.

A team of Royal Navy and RAF engineers have been collaborating at Pax River for several years to maintain the £120m F35B Lightning II stealthy strike fighter that will replace the Harrier.

The existing RAM handler, which is used to move Fleet Air Arm Lynx and Wildcats and Army Air Corps Apaches, has evolved into the Electric Shipboard Handler (Aircraft).

"The next generation F35B Lightning II joint strike fighter is expected to fly aboard in 2018."

The next generation F35B Lightning II joint strike fighter is expected to fly aboard in 2018 with all the handler thoroughly tested in advance.

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The prototype was tested on two bitterly cold days in cooperation with the colleagues from Culdrose, Fleet HQ in Portsmouth, handler manufacturers Douglas, and the F35’s builders Lockheed Martin.

Royal Navy said the UK owns three F35Bs at present, but it was one of the US Marine Corps’ jump jets – identical in every respect – used for the test, BF5, which was used on the recent landing / take-off trials on the USS Wasp, off the Eastern Seaboard of the US.

Image: The prototype electric shipboard handler (aircraft) during testing at Pax River, near Washington DC, US. Photo: courtesy of the Royal Navy website.

Defence Technology