Pax River F-35 ITF Leaves HMS Queen Elizabeth After “Eclipsing aspirations”

November 30, 2018 – F-35 Lightning jets from the Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) left HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), Nov. 19, 2018, after eight weeks flying on and off the 65,000-tonne warship, helping to write the ‘operator’s manual’ so the jets can fly from her deck on front-line operations. The success of the Westlant 18 deployment – which has also included a visit to New York – allows the Portsmouth, UK-based ship to move on to operational trials next year. Two F-35B test jets, four test pilots and nearly…

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Lightnings strike Eagles and Hawks as F-35s train to defend UK skies

November 30, 2018 – Side by side several thousand feet above eastern England three warbirds fly in close formation as UK F-35s take part in their first combat exercise in home skies: playing out a mock 21st-Century Battle of Britain. Two Lightnings – one flown by an RAF pilot, the second with a Fleet Air Arm aviator in the cockpit – joined 40 British, American and French jets over East Anglia and the North Sea for Exercise Point Blank. For the past three years, the US and RAF have been…

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Another milestone landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth

November 19, 2018 – For the first time a jet has landed backwards on Britain’s new aircraft carrier as HMS Queen Elizabeth and her F-35 Lightnings pass another milestone. RAF test pilot Squadron Leader Andy Edgell flew his specially-adapted stealth fighter facing the stern, not bow, before bringing the jet to a hover, slipping it over the huge flight deck and gently setting it down. The ‘back-to-front’ maneuver, described as “like driving the wrong way down a one-way street” is intended to give pilots and the flight deck team more…

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UK to double F-35 fleet with 17-jet order

November 15, 2018 – The UK is set to double its number of world-beating F-35 stealth jets after ordering 17 more aircraft, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced. The 17 new F-35B aircraft will be delivered between 2020 and 2022 and will complement the 16 British aircraft currently based at RAF Marham and in the US, as well as two additional aircraft which are already on order. Overall, the UK has committed to procure 138 aircraft over the life of the programme. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said, “I am delighted…

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First test bombs dropped from HMS Queen Elizabeth’s F-35s

October 18, 2018 – The first bombs have been dropped from F-35 Lightning fighter jets conducting trials on board Britain’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. The inert GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided precision bombs were dropped off the east coast of the USA, marking another significant milestone in the carrier’s trials. Adding the 500lb bombs to the jets for take-off has enabled the trials teams to see how the jets behave when carrying various weights, gathering crucial test data. It is the first time the American-made bombs have ever…

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F-35 pilot makes history with revolutionary method of landing jets on HMS Queen Elizabeth

October 15, 2018 – A revolutionary method of landing an F-35 Lightning fighter jet on a ship has been carried out for the first time on board the UK’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. British test pilot Peter Wilson made history when he conducted the first ever shipborne rolling vertical landing (SRVL) this weekend – a method which looks like a conventional aircraft landing but requires even more intense skill and precision. Previously the jets have conducted only vertical landings, hovering by the side of the ship before moving…

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F-35s Conduct First Night Landings on HMS Queen Elizabeth

October 3, 2018 – Aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has reached another milestone in her flight trials with the first night-time landings of F-35 Lightning jets. Britain’s biggest warship is currently conducting flight testing off the east coast of the United States and part of that is practicing landing in darkness. These tests were carried out with and without the aid of night-vision technology, with the pilots and aircraft handlers successfully guiding the fast fighter jets onto the flight deck. Pilots initially flew in using only ambient light and the…

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F-35Bs Join Forces with British Aircraft Carrier to Make History

October 2, 2018 – This week the first F-35 Lightning fighter jets landed on the deck of the United Kingdom’s new aircraft carrier making history and marking the beginning of more than half-a-century of ‘Carrier Strike’ operations. Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Sq. Ldr. Andy Edgell, both test pilots at the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., were the first pilots to land the stealth F-35 Lightning fighter jets on board the carrier, demonstrating the formidable force HMS Queen Elizabeth and…

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USMC F-35B Conducts First Combat Strikes in CENTCOM AOR

September 27, 2018 – The Marine Corps F-35B, Lightning II, conducted its first combat strikes in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan, Sept. 27. During this mission the F-35B conducted an air strike in support of ground clearance operations, and the strike was deemed successful by the ground force commander. “The F-35B is a significant enhancement in theater amphibious and air warfighting capability, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy,” said Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central command. “As part…

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F-35 Lightning jets land on HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time

September 28, 2018 – Fast fighter jets are once again flying from a Royal Navy aircraft carrier as the first F-35s have landed on the flight deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Commander Nathan Gray RN and S/L Andy Edgell RAF were the first pilots to make history by landing their F-35 Lightning stealth jets on the flight deck of Britain’s newest carrier. [smartslider3 slider=95] Shortly afterwards, Commander Gray became the first pilot to take off using the ship’s ski ramp. The flying operations mark the start of more than 500…

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ITF Team Nears Historic Testing with HMS Queen Elizabeth

September 13, 2018 – The F-35 Patuxent River Integrated Test Force (ITF) is nearing another milestone as they prepare to embark two F-35Bs on board the United Kingdom’s newest aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for First of Class Flight Trials (Fixed Wing), or FOCFT (FW), this fall. Nearly 200 ITF personnel—active duty U.S. and U.K. military, DOD civilians as well as contractors from DOD and industry—will join the ship’s 1,500-person crew in making history when the two jets land on the British carrier. The event will be the first time…

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Arrives at Mayport for F-35B Trials

September 6, 2018 – HMS Queen Elizabeth, has arrived in Mayport, Florida for her first ever visit to the USA, following her formal commission into the Royal Navy by her sponsor, Her Majesty, The Queen. The 65,000 tonne ship departed the UK last month for her first trans-Atlantic voyage, primarily to conduct trials on deck with F-35B Lightning II test fighter jets from the Integrated Test Force at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. During her three months off the east coast of the USA, HMS Queen Elizabeth and her…

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British-armed F-35B Lightning jet takes to the skies

Britain’s new stealth fighter jet, the F-35B Lightning, has carried out its first trials armed with UK-built weapons, showcasing the major role that the UK plays in the supersonic aircraft and bringing it a step closer to operations on the frontline. Defence Minister Stuart Andrew revealed that a British F-35 Lightning jet reached the landmark milestone whilst he was on a visit to the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) in Wales. The Welsh site is set to become a global repair hub for the cutting-edge aircraft, providing crucial maintenance,…

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Dstl scientists take to the high seas on HMS Queen Elizabeth

August 30, 2018 – As HMS Queen Elizabeth makes her way across the Atlantic deploying for her longest sea trial to date, a pair of scientists from the Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) are on-board as part of an analytic research team. Dstl has been involved in the development of HMS Queen Elizabeth for the past 20 years, starting with the original study to replace the Invincible light carrier fleet. Dstl helped to define the size and shape of the ship and a specialist team investigated ship-air integration, which…

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Pax River ITF to conduct first-time trials onboard partner nation’s carrier

August 29, 2018 – After years of partnership within the F-35 Lightning II Joint Program Office, U.S. and United Kingdom team members from the F-35 Pax River Integrated Test Force (ITF) eagerly anticipate the First of Class Flight Trials (FOCFTs) onboard the U.K.’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, this fall. When the first two fifth-generation F-35Bs – piloted by the ITF’s Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray and Royal Air Force Sqn. Ldr. Andrew Edgell – touch down on the carrier’s deck, the historic moment will be a tremendous step in…

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