F-35 Lightning Jets Land in HMS Queen Elizabeth at Night

Source: U.K. Ministry of Defence
Source: U.K. Ministry of Defence

Published Feb 10, 2020 6:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

Four F-35 Lightning jets have completed night landings in HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The jets flew over U.K. waters on operational training that builds on successful trials completed last year off the coast of the U.S. In December, the first flight was made in U.K. waters (videos here).

HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will be the first aircraft carriers in the world to be designed specifically to operate the Lightning jet. The “Short Take Off and Vertical Landing” Lightning jets also feature advanced sensors and stealth technology. The Lightning jets will be jointly manned by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “Few countries in the world have the capacity and technology to deploy fighter jets from an aircraft carrier in the North Sea. These trials put the U.K. at the helm of fifth generation warfighting and cement the U.K. as a Tier 1 military power.”

The U.K. is expected to declare Initial Operating Capability by the end of 2020 and combined operational deployment is expected next year. The first operational deployment for HMS Queen Elizabeth 617 Squadron and a squadron of U.S. Marine Corps Lightning jets is due to take place in 2021. The U.K. currently owns 18 aircraft, with an additional order placed for 30 jets.