November 13, 2018 – When F-35B pilots Royal Navy Commander Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Squadron leader Andy Edgell touched down on the HMS Queen Elizabeth they made history. The work of several years culminated in a few short, but historic, moments as a nation – and a ship’s crew – looked on.
But it’s not just the Royal Navy onboard. There’s a wider team of men and women dedicated to ensuring the 11-week ship trials are a success. Alongside the UK’s Ministry of Defence, Lockheed Martin employees from the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) are committed to the customer’s mission: Equipping the U.K. with the capability to strike decisively from the seas anywhere in the world.
We’re now three weeks into the deployment, and with the first stage of developmental testing (DT-1) complete, the team is tracking ahead of schedule. Major milestones reached include F-35B night operations, the first-ever shipborne rolling vertical landing and operations with other aircraft in the Royal Navy’s fleet.
With more than 500 take-offs and landings planned, under a range of sea and weather conditions, the efforts of every individual aboard the ship have been – and continue to be – necessary to ensure seamless testing.
Seamless Operations below the Flight Deck
Amy Henderson, Lockheed Martin detachment operations lead, has been embedded on the ship since day one of trials. In her role, she serves as an integrator between the F-35 Integrated Test Force (ITF) and the ship’s crew, ensuring smooth coordination with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force’s day-to-day operations and logistics.
From coordinating meals and sleeping areas to work spaces and more, Amy has been laser focused on providing advanced capability to the UK at an affordable price. By working with her team to cross train, step out of its comfort zone and walk in lockstep with the customer, Amy is helping the ITF be more effective and capable at sea.
“We have several functions that have cross trained and stepped out of their normal, defined swim lanes to try and be more effective and capable when they came out here,” said Amy. “In the end, I think we’re going to be able to deliver all the capability – and more – that was desired.”
Hear Amy’s Story Below:
Driving Safety, Reliability and Accountability
Bryan Dowling is the Lockheed Martin aircraft supervisor for BF-5, one of the F-35Bs conducting testing aboard the ship. In this role, he works above the flight deck with a focus on the safety of the jet, crew and pilot. Through close collaboration with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, Bryan helps ensure the services have safe, flying and reliable aircraft.
“The experience I’ve had with the Royal Navy has been a really good one,” said Bryan. “The communication out on top of the flight deck has been outstanding. The jet has been performing great. It’s rock steady, and we seem to be doing everything above and beyond what we’re being asked to do.”
Hear Bryan’s Story Below:
Cody Hydrick, a Lockheed Martin air vehicles flying quality engineer, spends his time aboard the ship interfacing with the customer and ensuring the required capability is provided to successfully complete these ship trials.
Despite the ship’s design differing from the U.S. ships Cody is used to working on, he has worked to adapt to the ship and help the Ministry of Defence take one more step toward F-35B initial operational capability.
“Not only have we provided initial capability for the Royal Navy service members to get in the jet and launch it safely, we’ve cleared all of that area and provided that envelope, so we’re happy to say, ‘OT – go ahead, it’s safe and we’ve checked it out,’” said Cody.
Hear Cody’s Story Below:
When embarking on a challenging, first-of-its-kind test, collaboration is key. Across all facets, the Lockheed Martin has team has been in lockstep with the UK services, ensuring a timely, effective and historic time out at sea for the HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Royal Navy Capt. Jerry Kyd, the ship’s Commanding Officer, voiced his pleasure with the continued teamwork and tenacity of everyone involved.
“It has been a superb effort by everyone across the ITF and HMS Queen Elizabeth so far in the UK’s F-35B sea trials,” said Capt. Kyd. “I could not be more pleased with the team spirit and dynamism from all that has delivered a volume of quality data which has put us well ahead of where we expected to be at this stage. I am very grateful to all the ITF folk who have been focused, professional and willing to go the extra mile—more to come!”