UK

F-35s Conduct First Night Landings On HMS Queen Elizabeth In UK Waters

Exercise Lightning Fury follows sea trials completed during last year's Westlant 19 Carrier Strike Group deployment.

Four F-35 Lightnings fighter jets have completed the first night landings on aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth in UK waters.

They are in the midst of operational training on Exercise Lightning Fury over the North Sea.

It aims to ensure the RAF's 207 Squadron achieves essential carrier flying and Landing Signals Officer supervisory qualifications.

It builds on trials conducted in 2019 during the Carrier Strike Group deployment 'Westlant 19', off the east coast of the United States.

The first-ever night landings of Lightning aircraft took place in October 2018, off the east coast of the United States.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the capability puts "the UK at the helm of 5th generation warfighting" and confirms the UK is "a Tier 1 military power".

The jet's bright green lights seen clearly against the dark of night on board HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: MOD).

According to the Ministry of Defence, the Queen Elizabeth-class ships, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, are the first aircraft carriers in the world designed to use the F-35.

"Operating the UK's Lightning Force from the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth in UK waters is a significant milestone, and one we are delighted to have shown the Secretary of State for Defence in person," Commander UK Strike Force, Mike Utley said.

The UK is to declare Initial Operating Capability for Carrier Strike by the end of this year.

Cover image: An F-35 Lightning fighter jet sits on the runway on board aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (Picture: MOD).