British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth one step closer to being able for deployment

British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth is one step closer to being able to deploy on global operations after completing the first stages of Operational Sea Training. The Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier has been at sea since late April to prove she will be ready for her maiden operational deployment next year, and the UK can deliver on its commitment to have a Carrier Strike Group ready to deploy from the end of this year.
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British Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth one step closer to being able for deployment 925 001 The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (RO 8) sails the Atlantic Ocean. (Picture source U.S. Navy)

This latest round of training has made the next big step of HMS Queen Elizabeth’s programme possible – the embarkation of the UK’s operational F35 Lightning jets. Before the F35s join, the ship will make a planned return alongside at Portsmouth to load essential stores and kit necessary to operate the jets at sea.

The brief stop will see engineers and equipment from 617 Squadron join the carrier, ready for her return to sea and continuation of training and embarkation of the Squadron’s F35 Lightning aircraft.

 Last week, HMS Queen Elizabeth continued Operational Sea Training under the watchful eyes of the renowned Royal Navy Sea Training experts. This phase is based on the survivability of a major incident at sea where the ship’s company will have to work together to overcome any emergencies or threats such as significant floods and fires.

The next stage will see more qualifying training for UK F35 Lightning fighter jet crews, who will be conducting practice Combat Air Patrols from her decks, giving vital experience to the aircrews and ship’s company involved in air operations. This period at sea will prepare the ship for further training later in the year with other Royal Navy ships to ensure they are ready to deploy as a task group next year.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth is the lead ship of the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carriers, the largest warships ever built for the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom. While work continues to bring HMS Prince of Wales to life at Rosyth, HMS Queen Elizabeth has been undergoing sea trials since leaving the Scottish dockyard in June and entered her new home in Portsmouth for the first time in August.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier began sea trials in June 2017, was commissioned on 7 December 2017 and is scheduled to enter service in 2020. It will be capable of carrying forty aircraft, a maximum of thirty-six F-35s and four helicopters. Defensive weapons include the Phalanx Close-In Weapons System for anti-aircraft and anti-missile defence, and 30mm Automated Small Calibre Guns and Miniguns for use against fast attack craft.