First exercises between Italian F-35 fighter jets and HMS Queen Elizabeth

According to information published by the Royal Navy on November 22, 2021, HMS Queen Elizabeth has welcomed Italian F-35 fighter jets onto her flight deck after working with the Navy.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Italian F-35 Lightning fighter jets on HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture source: Royal Navy)

Britain’s flagship is currently in the Mediterranean following months in the Indo-Pacific region as part of her global deployment. As she heads west back to the UK, the ship has continued her busy program of working with allied nations and partners.

The latest series of exercises saw HMS Queen Elizabeth work with Italian F-35 Lightning stealth jets.

They are the same B variant as the joint RAF/Royal Navy and US Marine Corps stealth fighter currently embarked in the Portsmouth-based UK flagship. Italy is the only other NATO partner aside from the US and UK to operate that variant.

The landings and takings off by the Italians mean HMS Queen Elizabeth has now hosted jets from three different countries since leaving home in May, with the Italians the first European NATO partner to land on the UK flagship's flight deck.

Earlier during their deployment, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her jets trained with the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and her impressive air wing in the Pacific Ocean, which includes the traditional carrier variant, F-35C – launched by catapult.

The UK carrier also conducted multi-carrier exercises with the French carrier FS Charles de Gaulle, the USS Essex, USS Ronald Reagan, the Japanese Carrier JS Ise, and the Japanese A variant of the F-35 stealth fighter.

HMS Queen Elizabeth and her task group, including Type 45 destroyers HMS Defender and Diamond, Type 23 frigates HMS Kent and Richmond, Royal Fleet Auxiliary support ships RFA Fort Victoria and Tidespring.

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions.

It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems.